No. 45

Flintoff consoles Lee

In the heat of battle, Fred shows he cares

Peter Roebuck

October 18, 2009

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Andrew Flintoff immediately consoles Brett Lee, as England took the final wicket to win, on a nail-biting fourth day at Edgbaston, England v Australia, August 7, 2005
Flintoff spares a thought, and a moment © Getty Images
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Birmingham, 7 August 2005

No series had been more eagerly awaited than the 2005 Ashes. After years of painful defeat, England had raised a strong side and a close contest was anticipated. And so it proved, with the ancient foes fighting for the spoils like a pair of enraged bulls. Roared on by passionate crowds, urged on by an entire nation, the hosts relentlessly attacked an opponent desperately trying to find breathing space.

After 22 days of fierce struggle, amid scenes of wild rejoicing, and by the narrowest of margins, England recaptured the urn. Thereafter the players were feted and almost knighted. Meanwhile the Australians went home to lick their wounds.

Yet the abiding memory of the series was not of violences or close finishes or even nationalistic fervour. Sport provides man with an opportunity to rise above himself. Throughout, Andrew Flintoff was a towering figure, a great warrior in his element. In Birmingham, though, he showed the gentlest of touches. In the most frantic of finishes, Australia's tailenders had taken their team to within two runs of a stunning victory only to fall agonisingly short.

As all England celebrated, so Flintoff went across to console the valiant but vanquished. He put an arm around Brett Lee and the two pugilists embraced in the aftermath of battle.

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It
This article was published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine

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Peter Roebuck He may not have played Test cricket for England, but Peter Roebuck represented Somerset with distinction, making over 1000 runs nine times in 12 seasons, and captaining the county during a tempestuous period in the 1980s. Roebuck acquired recognition all over the cricket world for his distinctive, perceptive, independent writing. Widely travelled, he divided his time between Australia and South Africa. He died in November 2011

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