<
>

Flintoff v Lee Part 2

There is one image of the Ashes series that is talked about more than any other. It isn't the sight of Shane Warne claiming another wicket, Kevin Pietersen smashing a towering six or Michael Vaughan holding the urn aloft at The Oval. The picture of the series was Andrew Flintoff on his haunches, consoling Brett Lee following the end of the Edgbaston humdinger.

These two stars played it tough on the field - busting a gut at every turn - but formed a firm admiration for each other off it. Lee took a fierce pounding when he faced Flintoff and by the end of the series his hands must have felt more used than his bat. The confrontation was renewed at the SCG during the most intense passage of play in the Super Test.

In the first innings Flintoff took care of his sparring partner swiftly and, surprisingly for all of the barrage Lee faced during the Ashes, this was the first time Flintoff had snared him in a Test. However, the battle lasted longer second time around although Flintoff must be wondering how.

During an afternoon spell that hauled the World XI back into contention, Flintoff roared in. It was only by the narrowest of margins that he didn't knock Lee over for the second time in the match, but the fact that he survived brought a much needed edge to the contest.

As during the English summer Flintoff peppered the middle of the pitch, and in his 15th over Lee was forced to do his passable impression of a limbo dancer as a searing bouncer homed in on to his helmet. With his target now softened up - although Lee has proved he is anything but soft - Flintoff pitched the ball up and swung it at a speed approaching 90mph. He beat the bat with the last four balls of his over, then for good measure made it five on the trot at the start of his 16th.

Flintoff had had enough of trying to get the outside edge so with his next delivery went for the express yorker, but was left exasperated as Lee forced it away through square-leg for a single. After all his effort, with his next ball - a bouncer - he had Shane Watson, who had happily stood at the non-strikers end watching Lee's attempts at survival, caught behind from an attempted hook.

The spell finished after eight high-velocity overs, with Flintoff taking 3 for 12. He didn't get the chance to claim his eighth wicket of the match, which would have been his best haul, but the Aussies know it is just 13 months until the rivalry will be renewed. Lee will no doubt be making sure his protective gear is ready to go.