Freddie's loss is hitting home

Andy Lloyd
WHILE Andrew Flintoff was signing off his Lord&rsquo;s Test career in style, the stark reality of his imminent retirement began to hit home.<br /><br />Freddie showed yesterday why he remains England&rsquo;s most potent weapon with the ball and he will be a huge loss to England once this Ashes series comes to an end.<br /><br />Despite giving it a damn good try, Australia were never going to reach their 522 target, especially when a refreshed Freddie strode purposefully towards his captain at the start of the morning&rsquo;s play to take the nearly-new ball on a good Lord&rsquo;s pitch.<br /><br />Not for the first time, Freddie&rsquo;s sheer presence inspired England to new levels, not least by a furious opening spell which set the tone for the session and tipped the balance in England&rsquo;s favour. As he did at the start of Australia&rsquo;s second innings 24 hours previous, Freddie delivered a blistering spell of consistent and aggressive fast bowling which proved too hot to handle for a sustained period of time.<br /><br /><strong>WORK THEIR MAGIC</strong><br />Make no mistake about it, this was a terrific victory for England &ndash; not only because they ended a 75-year Ashes drought at Lord&rsquo;s, but also for the way they upped their game after a below-par performance in Cardiff.<br /><br />But unfortunately for England this intensity has finally taken its toll on Flintoff, hence his decision to hang up his whites at the end of the series.<br /><br />But I fear the situation may be worse that that.<br /><br />After a 27-over stint with the ball, including 11 yesterday, Freddie&rsquo;s troubled knee will be feeling pretty sore this morning and I fear he may not be able to recover in time for the third Test at Edgbaston in nine days&rsquo; time.<br /><br />In fact, England&rsquo;s medics now have a crucial part to play in England&rsquo;s preparations for the third Test with he and England&rsquo;s other talismanic figure, Kevin Pietersen, both struggling for fitness. England will be praying the medics can work their magic to keep them to full-strength on an Edgbaston pitch, which produces a result in Tests more often than not.