Wed, Feb 14, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Trophy helps lift England's cricket gloom

AP , LONDON

England captain Andrew Flintoff, left, and Paul Collingwood hold the trophy after defeating Australia in the tri-nations cricket series at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday. England won by 35 runs.

PHOTO: AFP

England's cricket team is flying home with Andrew Flintoff holding a winner's trophy. Shame it's the wrong one.

After timidly handing over the Ashes by losing the Test series 5-0 to Australia, England ended the tour by winning a triangular one-day series with a game to spare and taking home the gleaming trophy.

Early losses to both New Zealand and Australia suggested England would be flying home as losers for the second time without even reaching the one-day final.

But Andrew Flintoff's team shrugged off its poor form to beat both of its rivals and reach the three-game final. It then won the first two matches against Ricky Ponting's Australians.

"We knew we had it in us, it took a while to come out but we are very pleased it has done and we are going to enjoy it," Flintoff said in Australia before the players boarded the plane home.

"I've played quite a few one-day internationals now. We've won the odd series, some great games of cricket. But to beat Australia three times on the bounce, to come from where we did to get into the finals and go on and win them shows what this team can do," he said.

"We will take a lot of spirit to the World Cup with us," Flintoff said.

The one-day triumphs will give England a major boost going into the March 11-April 28 World Cup in the Caribbean where it faces New Zealand, Kenya and Canada in group play in St. Lucia.

England's turnaround in form during the last two weeks of the tour has lifted the gloom and also taken some of the heat off the players and coach Duncan Fletcher.

Flintoff said that England was struggling to beat the weakest Test playing nations before Fletcher was appointed coach in June 1999. But the Zimbabwean lifted the team up to second in world cricket rankings, the highlight being the regaining of the Ashes from Australia in 2005.

"He has been our coach for a long time and he has taken this side forward," said Flintoff, who is leading the team in the absence of injured Michael Vaughan.

"Over a period of time you've seen the improvement in the England side. Every player that has played under him has learnt something and taken something away to improve their game. On a trip like this the coach has taken a few knocks and taken flak on our behalf. To repay him like we have done is great," Flintoff said.

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