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Freddie at the Oval

Matt79

Global Moderator
After the spanking at Leeds, English fans are understandably seeking hope in the return of Flintoff for the decider. Given his injury was so bad that they could not give him enough painkillers to let him play at Headingly without endangering his overall health, I'm curious to know what English fans realistically expect he might bring to the team over Harmison or Onions, if indeed he plays at all.
 

GIMH

Norwood's on Fire
Well I certainly wouldn't bring him in for Onions and I hope to God they don't.

As for what does he give us over Harmison? He's a better bowler, even when not fully fit. Given that this his last Test I'd very much doubt that you'll notice any signs of an injury anyway, and he bowls the aggressive stuff so much better than Harmison. Harmison bowled one good spell at Headingley, but after that was far too short. Now obviously Flintoff does bowl too short at times, but never looks like getting hit all over the place whilst doing so.

Basically, even if he isn't taking wickets like he was at Lord's in the second innings, you imagine he'd be able to bowl like he did in the first, which in turn allowed Jimmeh to take wickets. Whereas Harmison either takes wickets himself or gets tonked (that's a little simplistic but effectively true I reckon).

On top of that you can add his batting, he seems to be in good nick, big bonus there as well
 

Richard

Cricket Web Staff Member
Simple truth is if you're expecting him to put in a domineering performance, you're making a big ask. But it's certainly not an ask beyond him. No-one, UIMM, at this stage is fully aware of what his physical condition is. If it's decent (say, >70%) then I'd back him to have a good chance of doing a commanding job. Certainly barring something quite extraordinary, he can be expected to do better than what Harmison did at Headingley or would at The Oval.

Onions, meanwhile, should unquestionably play at The Oval.
 

Richard

Cricket Web Staff Member
Amazed it's taken you this long, and amazed you haven't seen me (or someone else) explain it, TBH.

Unless I'm much mistaken.
 

vic_orthdox

Global Moderator
You know at least with a half-fit Flintoff that he will build pressure, if others bowl well. That's not something that Harmison can ever really do.
 

BoyBrumby

Englishman
Can see Fred bowling a heck of a lot of overs because Strauss might figure "What the hell?" as it's his supposedly last (do have my doubts, tbh) test.
 

Pothas

Hall of Fame Member
Yeah I have some doubts about that as well actually, if Flintoff manages to stay fit for an extended period ot time and if (and this is more likely) England continue to be a very average side then the calls for him to come back will never stop, and I am not sure if Flintoff is the sort of character who will be able to resist these calls.
 

Pizzorno

State Vice-Captain
Because he's Fred. That's why he's playing.

Besides, he's the only player in our squad that the crims have a degree of fear about. Flintoff with one leg will still send the shivers up Ricky and co.
 

Richard

Cricket Web Staff Member
You know at least with a half-fit Flintoff that he will build pressure, if others bowl well. That's not something that Harmison can ever really do.
If you class "building pressure" as bowling economically, as most do (the reality of course is that different things pressurise different batsmen, and some iron-willed batsmen are pressurised by nothing, so there's no one thing that "builds pressure"), then Harmison is actually quite capable of doing it, he just doesn't do so very often. Even when he does he doesn't generally threaten much, but he can bowl consistently good areas, and from time to time has done - though never for many Tests at a time.

With Flintoff you generally feel he's "always at you", even if he's not bowling particularly economically. He rarely offers too much let-up.
 

pup11

International Coach
Freddie is a charismatic cricketer, he lifts his own team and he is the kind of cricketer whom the opposition would always worry about, that's why it was surprising that Strauss and Flower didn't play him in the last test, despite Freddie claiming that he was fit enough.

Him coming back into the side gives the English side greater flexibility and the bowling attack too looks a lot more solid with him in there, there are doubts whether he is fit enough to play at the Oval, but it being his last test, I have no doubt he would play and try to do his best, and it also goes without saying that even a half-fit Freddie is better than most of the current English bowlers.

So to put it simply, if England are to win back the Ashes, then they would need a huge effort from Freddie, without that can't see them winning at the Oval.
 

zaremba

Cricketer Of The Year
Freddie is a charismatic cricketer, he lifts his own team and he is the kind of cricketer whom the opposition would always worry about, that's why it was surprising that Strauss and Flower didn't play him in the last test, despite Freddie claiming that he was fit enough.

Him coming back into the side gives the English side greater flexibility and the bowling attack too looks a lot more solid with him in there, there are doubts whether he is fit enough to play at the Oval, but it being his last test, I have no doubt he would play and try to do his best, and it also goes without saying that even a half-fit Freddie is better than most of the current English bowlers.
All of this.

The series is level at 1-1. The teams are reasonably well matched (Australia perhaps the better team, England with home advantage) so on paper there's no reason why England can't reclaim the urn. They key, of course, is momentum and the psychological impact of the annihilation at Leeds. Flintoff's return, for a final gut-busting hurrah, is precisely what the England team needs. I don't think his fitness will really enter into it tbh. I expect him to bowl as fast and as well as he ever has done. "One big push to win the Ashes" - a thought which would cause some to shrink into their shells, but in Freddie's case, particularly in his last ever Test match, it will surely bring the best out of him. And, cliche though it may be, he has a great ability to lift those around him.
 

Dissector

International Debutant
He didn't achieve much on the last day at Edgbaston, however, and going 2-0 up would have been quite a strong incentive for a big push as well. OTOH his batting is almost enough to justify his place in the team especially given the fragility of the middle order. I suspect the intangibles will tilt the scale heavily towards his inclusion.
 

Lillian Thomson

International Coach
It's all a bit silly calling for Flintoff to play come what may. Even Boycott reckons he should play on one leg. While it might be true that he's a better option than the rest of the attack even if only 75% fit, it's also true that anyone - especially a fast bowler - starting a Test Match at that level of fitness is likely to become even less fit very quickly.
 

zaremba

Cricketer Of The Year
It's all a bit silly calling for Flintoff to play come what may. Even Boycott reckons he should play on one leg. While it might be true that he's a better option than the rest of the attack even if only 75% fit, it's also true that anyone - especially a fast bowler - starting a Test Match at that level of fitness is likely to become even less fit very quickly.
Harmison was brought in to replace him, playing, it seemed, on two legs but three stomachs. Fred is at least his equal as a bowler. And with the bat and in the field it's no contest. And when it comes to what Dissector calls "the Intangibles", it's no contest. So Fred is back; welcome back.
 

JBH001

International Regular
Think Freddie should play, although I think it was the right decision to leave him out at Leeds. I do worry though that he might break down during the test. As it seems, he is playing more for his bowling than his batting (although England need that too). If Panesar plays, then England would be reduced to an attack of Anderson/Broad/Swann.
 

zaremba

Cricketer Of The Year
He won't break down. 5th Day at Birmingham meant little other than that Strauss didn't want to cause him injury when a draw was inevitable. He will be injected to within an inch of his life (GIMH at the front of that particular queue I suspect) and will get through the game. And even if he doesn't, the risk is reduced by having a 5-man bowling attack, which England will surely persist with for this game.
 

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