Thursday, September 08, 2005

Even Stevens at the close of day one

Glenn McGrath did practically nothing of note all day, but he may well have delivered the most important blow on day one. Just as Andrew Flintoff threatened to put the game beyond Australia's reach, McGrath got him to play a forcing shot outside the off-stump. The day, however, belonged to Shane Warne whose performances in this series suggest he may have decided this will be his swansong, such is the force with which he has put his stamp on the greatest series in memory. His batting, in particular, seems to have been driven by that desire to leave his mark, not that it was demanded. If he does indeed decide to hang up his boots at the end of the summer (from international cricket, at any rate), it would be a fitting end to a glittering career. He will be disappointed that he chose to pull when he was well within sight of a hundred at Old Trafford, but I suspect he won't mind that if Australia can pull this one out. The other stand outs were the two Andrews in the England camp, Strauss and Flintoff. Despite all that Warne has done, this will be remembered as Flintoff's series. To paraphrase something former Nigerian soccer coach Clement Westerhoff once said about his star striker Rashidi Yekini, stars like Flintoff don't grow on trees. Despite the accomplishments of Cairns, Kallis, Pollock et al, the world has starved for an all-rounder of the same calibre as the great ones of the 1980's. Flintoff could not have chosen a better time to emerge as the force that he is today. - NK

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