July 26, 2000

Flintoff "awesome" as Lancs smash way to NatWest Semis

Staff and agencies
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Andrew Flintoff
Andrew Flintoff - superb exhibition of stroke-play
Photo © CricInfo

Former England captain David Gower has lauded Andrew Flintoff's brutal century at The Oval today as one of "the most awesome" imaginable after the burly all-rounder led Lancashire to a thumping eight wicket NatWest quarter final triumph over Surrey.

Taking typically ruthless toll of anything loose, Flintoff smashed nineteen fours and four sixes on his way to an unbeaten 135 from a mere 111 deliveries as his team overhauled Surrey's inadequate 210/7 with as many as fourteen overs to spare. In doing so, he provided the irreversible impetus for the Lancastrians to race toward the semi-final stage for the second time in three years.

NatWest Trophy

Himself no stranger to playing innings of note on big occasions, Gower described the England one-day player's knock as "one of the most awesome innings we are ever going to see on a cricket field. He has had his ups and downs, but today was very much the day for Andrew Flintoff."

Lancashire captain John Crawley, reduced essentially to the role of spectator toward the end of the innings, was similarly awe-struck. "It has to go down as one of the great innings in one-day domestic cricket," claimed Crawley. "I remember watching Viv Richards' great innings at Old Trafford (an unbeaten 189 for West Indies in a one-day international in 1984) a few years ago and that was marginally better, but this is very close behind it."

"I didn't think Surrey's total was a bad score when we lost Michael Atherton early on. It was a dicey situation for him to go out and bat and we think number three is the right position for him."

"He has to remember that he hasn't got to go out and get a quickfire thirty or forty but go on and get a big score like this. He can win games single-handedly when he plays like that and that's what he did today."

As for Flintoff himself, he was more understated but nevertheless delighted at the import of the innings. "That's probably as well as I've ever played for Lancashire because I've been wanting to go out there, bat through and knock off the runs like that."

Coming off an up and down NatWest Series of one-day international performances against Zimbabwe and West Indies, he revealed, "I don't really know what clicked to make me play the way I did. I suppose hitting my first ball for four helped and confidence plays a big part.

"I felt my feet were moving well and my hands were coming through the ball. It wasn't a case of going out to prove a point or anything like that: I just wanted to win the game for Lancashire."

Flintoff has endured a difficult month, drawing criticism because of an alleged lack of physical condition, but could have barely have shaken off the barbs any more convincingly today with a hand full of outrageously destructive strokeplay.