Flintoff joins Verity on Lord's roll of honour
'Verity's Match' will always retain a special place in cricket history. But England's 115-run win over Australia in London on Monday means they won't now have to go back 75 years to recall an Ashes Test victory at Lord's.cricket Updated: Jul 20, 2009 22:20 IST
'Verity's Match' will always retain a special place in cricket history.
But England's 115-run win over Australia in London on Monday means they won't now have to go back 75 years to recall an Ashes Test victory at Lord's.
Andrew Flintoff took centre stage on Monday, the fast bowler's haul of five wickets for 92 runs, doing much to end any lingering Australia hopes of reaching their imposing victory target of 522 as they were bowled out for 406.
However, Flintoff would be the first to admit that his man-of-the-match efforts pale in comparison with those of Hedley Verity, the star of England's 1934 innings and 38-run victory over Australia at Lord's.
Then, as now, Britain's Prime Minister was a Scot dealing with the after-effects of an economic crisis with Ramsay MacDonald confronting a set of problems not dissimilar from the ones facing Gordon Brown.
But the differences between England's two Ashes bowling stars at Lord's were stark. Verity was a modest, unassuming left-arm spinner from Yorkshire; Flintoff, a gregarious all-rounder from the rival county of Lancashire.
England had gone 38 years without an Ashes win at Lord's when an Australia team including Don Bradman, the greatest run-scorer Test cricket has known, arrived at the 'home of cricket' in 1934.
But not even Bradman could master Verity in a match where the then 29-year-old took 15 wickets for 104 runs.
Verity captured the prize wicket of Bradman, caught and bowled for 36.
But Australia were still soundly placed at 192 for two as the match entered the weekend.
However, these were the days of uncovered wickets and heavy rain turned the pitch into a 'slow turner'. Only opener Bill Brown, who made 105, scored more than 37 as Verity took seven for 61.
England captain Bob Wyatt, unlike 2009 successor Andrew Strauss, enforced the follow-on.
Bradman, caught behind for 13, again fell cheaply to Verity, as Australia were bowled out for 118 with the left-armer taking seven for 61 and 14 wickets in all on the third day.
When Flintoff took his fifth wicket Monday, an achievement that secured his place on the bowling honours board at Lord's, which records all those who've taken five wickets or more in a Test innings at the ground, he got down on one knee and threw his arms wide open in celebration.
It was a gesture inconceivable to players of Verity's generation, where a bowler might permit himself a small smile of satisfaction, but not much more, at the fall of a wicket.
Flintoff, who before this match said he would retire from Test cricket at the end of the series, said: "It was nice from my point of view to get five wickets in my last Test at Lord's.
"Maybe I milked the crowd a little bit, but the hard work had been done by the entire team. I was obviously pleased to get on the board at the end of it and my last Test here at Lord's is obviously very special to me."
Monday's win put England 1-0 up in the five-match series with three to play but in 1934 victory at Lord's saw the home side draw level in a campaign they eventually lost 2-1.
In 40 Tests, Verity took 144 wickets at an average of under 25 apiece and ten years of first-class cricket yielded 1,956 wickets at 14.87 runs each.
No wonder his obituary in cricket almanack Wisden read: "Judged by any standard, Verity was a great bowler"
But less than 10 years after his triumph at Lord's, Verity was dead, as he achieved a different sort of heroic status to the one routinely accorded to leading modern-day sportsmen such as Flintoff.
A captain in the British Army, Verity died of his wounds in a World War II prisoner of war camp in Italy two months following his 38th birthday after leading his company in an attack on German positions in Catania, Sicily.
"Verity showed, as he was so sure to do, that rare courage which both calculates and inspires," Wisden said.