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Flintoff seeks big England total England's tail cave in to pacemen
(about 10 hours later)
Andrew Flintoff and Paul Collingwood hold the key for England as they look to reach a big first innings total in the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney. Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath and Stuart Clark all finished with three wickets as England were bowled out for 291 on day two of the final Ashes Test.
They ended day one on 234-4, with Flintoff 42 not out and Collingwood 25. Starting the day in good shape on 234-4, England slumped to 257-7 and only a show of defiance from Andrew Flintoff (89) took them close to 300.
"To see off that last hour of play and the way they did it was really important for us. England's last five batsmen contributed a combined total of four runs, another pitiful performance from the tail.
"But tomorrow is a huge battle for us to get through the first session and the second new ball," team-mate Ian Bell told BBC Sport. Flintoff hit some fine shots off Lee before edging Clark to Adam Gilchrist.
England cannot afford to waste the opportunity as they trail 4-0 in the series and Australia are eager to achieve what would be only the second whitewash in Ashes history as they prepare to say goodbye to Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer. The second new ball was taken as soon as play began on Wednesday and McGrath and Lee looked dangerous immediately.
Bell said it was difficult to know what a par total was on a pitch offering help to the seam bowlers, but England would be looking for at least 350. Paul Collingwood was dropped by Justin Langer in the slips in Lee's first over, but in any case added just two to his overnight 25 before edging a McGrath lifter to Gilchrist.
"We certainly don't want to lose 5-0 but for us, as a young England side, we've got to put this behind us now. Chris Read never settled and soon gave Gilchrist another catch off Lee, who followed up by removing Sajid Mahmood for a golden duck.
"But it's important from this Test match and every day we play here in Australia that we're building for the next Ashes series," said Bell. England's number eight fended his first delivery away amateurishly for Matthew Hayden to take the easiest catch imaginable at gully.
"This is the toughest place you can play cricket. We've learnt certain things - and learnt the hard way - but I've enjoyed every minute out here and I'm looking forward to coming back here again in the future." Though he struggled to put bat to ball, Steve Harmison did better than his fellow tail-enders, lasting 24 balls to allow Flintoff to go from 61 to 82.
From Australia's point of view, they will look to get rid of Flintoff on day two before he has time to settle at the crease. After a disappointing series with only one half century in the first four games, Flintoff looked more like his old self in hitting a six and five fours. The England skipper was within sight of his sixth Test century - and first since the summer of 2005 - when nicking a big drive behind to be the ninth man out.
Australia coach John Buchanan said: "We beat the bat quite a bit and when we had them two down early on there might have been some ghosts floating around in the dressing room - but I think they responded well. And the final wicket was Shane Warne's 1,000th in international cricket, Monty Panesar missing an attempted sweep to be ajudged lbw.
"234-4 off 80 overs puts them in a reasonable position, providing they can capitalise on it. We're looking for a couple of early wickets so we can really restrict that total." Australia had to last just one over before lunch, and got to the interval on 4-0.
Buchanan praised seam bowler Stuart Clark who again looked impressive in sending down 19 overs for figures of 1-54.
"Since he came into the Test side his performances have been simply outstanding.
"Basically it's the old cliché, he gets the ball in the right areas a lot of times and if you can do that you make batsman struggle no matter how good they are. That's what he has done and that's what he continues to do," he said.