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Life President
May 29, 2005
Australia's 75 year reign at Lords came tumbling down with a whimper, as King Flintoff gave England victory on the back of his first five wicket haul at the ground.

Nothing could suppress the nerves at the Home of Cricket this morning, a terrific stand of 185 between Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin took the impetus away from a fantastic start by England, and only the manicurists of London could see the benefit.

Much had been said regarding England's flailing attack at the end of Sundays play, yet the new ball sparked new life as Anderson started the proceedings by ripping quickly into Haddin, sparking feverous LBW appeals. Yet it was the English talisman Flintoff who struck the first blow.

In a ferocious first over, Flintoff did not bowl below 90mph and celebrated the wicket of Baddin, who nodded a delivery right into the palms of Paul Collingwood. English nerves came flooding back, however, as Mitchell Johnson came to the crease. Floundering with the ball, Johnson took control with the bat and looked to build a partnership with Clarke.

Almost an hour later, a change of tactic brought a change of result, as Graeme Swann changed his pace brilliantly to remove Michael Clarke’s off stump and the England charge gained new momentum.

With the end in sight, Flintoff took the ball again and ripped through Nathan Hauritz, taking his middle stump with enough power to charge the Lords floodlights for another five evenings worth of play.

Johnson continued to defy England and passed his half century with some impressive shots, but nobody was taking the mantle away from Flintoff, as the Return of the King removed Siddle for his fifth wicket of the innings, and the watching Lords crowd stood to acknowledge the achievement.

The remaining play was a formality, chasing 180 more runs the Australians were caught between a rock and a hard delivery. Fifteen minutes before lunch, Graeme Swann deceived Johnson on 63 and gave England the match and an all important 1-0 series lead.

Watchful eyes will be looking at the next test, a week on Thursday at Edgbaston, and how exactly Australia will respond to this defeat. With no Warne or McGrath to take wickets, Brett Lee doubtful and a poor display by all involved at Lords, it could be bleak times ahead.

The undisputed Man of the Match Flintoff collected his recession-busting cheque for £2,500, a shiny medallion and bottle of champers to share with the squad, but I have a sneaking suspicion it’ll be the stump he rushed to collect that’ll be taking pride of place on his mantelpiece this evening.