England’s 2005 Ashes triumph had given English cricket a long-awaited boost, but a 5-0 reverse down under in 2006-07 demonstrated that Australia remained powerful opponents.
When Ricky Ponting’s men arrived in England again in 2009 they had every hope of relegating 2005 to distant memory. Only a brave last wicket partnership between James Anderson and Monty Panesar saved England from defeat in the first Test and Australia arrived at Lord’s strong favourites. They hadn’t lost a Test at Lord’s since Hedley Verity spun England to a convincing win in 1934 and in the build-up to the match the media were gripped by stories of the Lord’s Ashes ‘jinx’. Even in England’s two most recent series victories, 1985 and 2005, Australia had been convincing winners at the Home of Cricket.
But this time it was a game England dominated from the first session. After winning the toss, an opening stand of 196 between Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook put them in charge. England’s final total of 425 was perhaps a disappointment after such a good start but their bowlers soon pressed home the advantage, dismissing Australia for just 215. England batted solidly second time around, and declared after three days’ play on 311 for 6, setting Australia an implausible target of 522. England had two days to bowl them out.
By the start of day five it almost looked possible that Australia could pull it off. Michael Clarke was unbeaten on 125, Brad Haddin on 80 and Australia were 313 for 5 needing 209 more. But Andrew Flintoff was having none of it. Bowling unchanged for 10 overs that morning in one of the fastest and most brilliant spells of his career, he claimed the early breakthrough, having Haddin caught low at slip off a superb outswinger. Graeme Swann then deceived Clarke with flight and turn before Flintoff clean bowled Nathan Hauritz and Peter Siddle. Swann finished things off removing the defiant Mitchell Johnson and England’s long wait was over.