Second Test – Day 5: Freddy

By Ben Santamaria, with Tim Santamaria.

July 20 was always going to be a famous day; however, who in the crowd at Lord’s in 1934 would have thought then that man would walk on the moon in less than half the time it would take their nation’s cricketers to next beat Australia at the home of cricket?

With five batsmen gone and only two hundred odd runs to chase from the first ball on day five, the sense of occasion was tangible: we were either going to see a world record run chase, or England make history.

As is turned out Freddy Flintoff made it his story.

Given the date in the United States, Barack Obama was due to meet the recluse, Neil Armstrong. This morning, with the passing of another great moonwalker still casting its shadow over events, it would fall upon a gentleman named Clive Radley (perhaps the long lost son of another famous recluse, Boo Radley) to ring the bell to signal five minutes until the start of play.

This may sound like an extreme over-analysis of our place in history, but with only ninety minutes of play on which to comment, you will have to grant us a degree of latitude as Brad Haddin edged the ball and effectively Australia’s chances with the tenth delivery of the morning.

We took our seats on the lower level of the Compton Stand, directly opposite the majestic pavilion: aesthetically pleasing, yet functionally defunct. To our right, visible and audible as ever were the Fanatics. After a respectable Wimbledon campaign, they reverted to old habits, letting themselves and their countrymen down by no-balling Freddie on each approach.

In the first hour, Strauss deployed three different men from the Nursery end, whilst one man, steaming in from the Members’ end, single-handedly broke the bat and back of the Australian resolve. The scoreboard did not register one ball slower than ninety miles per hour – a truly awesome spell.

Anderson was ineffective at the other end and was soon replaced by Broad who, though his bowling was ugly, made the batsmen duck. Swann dived into attack. Clarke’s sauntering down the pitch to play Swann’s first ball revealed the visitors’ cards too soon. Giving the next ball a little more, Swann deceived Clarke in flight before putting it perfectly into the rough, whence it knocked Clarke’s off stump. Whilst a wild and loose shot, and the disappointment on his face all too clear, his innings showed a discipline for which his fans have longed, and demonstrates a maturity needed for the rest of the series.

Mitchell Johnson’s half century was workmanlike, yet not unexpected. A sleepless, nervous night in London, tuned into KB from Melbourne, revealed Robert Craddock’s confidence in Johnson’s batting. It is doubtful that Punter will have the same confidence in his bowling come Edgbaston, yet there is ample time to repent – one need look no further than the forgiveness previously granted by the Australian selectors to the likes of Bradman and Warne, and by the staff of the Bourbon and Beefsteak Grill and the Australian public to Ponting himself.

Whilst Flintoff’s spell was truly awesome, even his biggest fans will have trouble justifying his now trademark, Messianic-like, response to taking a wicket. His career rightly deserves the applause of the Lord’s crowd – yet it must be noted that today he took the tail-enders and demanded recognition rather than awaiting it. At the other end, however, was intelligent bowling from Swann. He took Clarke’s off-stump and brought the field in for the last ball of his over to Johnson, tempting him to lash out and in doing so give up the cause which was, in many respects, more worthy of the applause that Freddie sought.

With that the better team had won and one of the great sporting droughts broken. The roar that the home crowd granted the South African umpire Rudi Koertzen at the presentation was telling. However Ponting, oft-maligned by the local press in this series, surprised his critics by refusing to take Atherton’s bait and blame anyone other than his team, and rightly so: you make your own luck. True to form, Punter spoke from the heart and answered the questions posed and, as he pointed out, received his first applause for the series.

As Ricky said, there were deficiencies in the bowling attack that need to be rectified. Hopefully Stuart Clark and Brett Lee grab the chance that is inevitably theirs for the taking in the tour match in Northampton.

On 20 July 2009, as necessity would have it, one giant leap was taken by England, one small step was made by Ponting.

Walking towards the ground in the morning, my cousin Tim had said that the ticket I offered him for the day’s play was the best birthday present he had ever received. As we walked back towards St. John’s Wood tube station, just after 2pm, with a fifty percent refund for less than two hours’ play in my pocket, I couldn’t help but think that this was the best birthday present I had ever given.


  1. that same Timmy Santamaria is more than a little inconsistent, and perhaps has an unfortunate habit of overly ingratiating his host, as he said to me that the ACDC ticket to Wembley Stadium that I gave him was the best birthday present he ever received.

Leave a Comment