|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
In the heat of battle, Fred shows he cares
October 18, 2009
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
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ian Chappell: Both Dhoni and Cook have made some inexplicable blunders, but India's captain pulls ahead slightly
Tony Cozier: It's unlikely that fans in West Indies will ever get to enjoy five-day cricket in the evening
Martin Crowe: It's hard to understand how India's best spinner is being left out in favour of bits-and-pieces players
Rewind: David Gower was on the verge of being dropped for good in 1990 when he made a charismatic century against India
Paul Ford: What incentive do other players have of confessing their involvement in fixing if a lifetime ban is all that they can expect?
Also, best post-war win/loss record, most runs in two calendar years, most ducks in a Test, and brothers with similar numbers
It's close to inexplicable how India's best spinner is being left out in favour of bits-and-pieces players