Pace man Andrew Flintoff removed both openers as England edged closer to a on a first Test win against Australia at Lord’s in 75 years yesterday.
Australia, chasing a world record 522 to win, were 76 for two at lunch on the fourth day of the second Ashes Test — still needing a further 446 runs for an unlikely victory.
However, controversy surrounded both wickets, with veteran umpire Rudi Koertzen, standing in his 100th Test, missing a no-ball in the lead up to Simon Katich’s exit and then giving Phillip Hughes out to a disputed slip catch by England captain Andrew Strauss.
Fast bowling all-rounder Flintoff, who before this match had announced he would retire from Test cricket at the end of the Ashes series, struck with his eighth ball when Katich guided him to Kevin Pietersen in the gully.
Replays showed Flintoff had overstepped the crease and that should have led to a call of no-ball from South Africa’s Koertzen, which would have denied England their first wicket.
Australia were then reduced to 34 for two when Hughes, on 17, edged Flintoff and was caught at first slip by Strauss.
The 20-year-old Hughes started to walk, but was told to stay by Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who on Saturday had seen England’s Ravi Bopara reprieved after the umpires referred a low catch to TV umpire Nigel Llong.
However, this time around Koertzen, after consulting with West Indian on-field colleague Billy Doctrove, was sufficiently confident to give Hughes out without calling on Llong.
The upshot was that Australia were 34 for two and Flintoff, the star of England’s 2005 Ashes triumph, had taken two wickets for two runs in 20 balls.
Ponting, 37 not out and Michael Hussey, 13 not out, had to survive several testing deliveries from England’s pace attack before batting through to lunch.
Strauss declared before play on England’s overnight second innings score of 311 for six.
That left Australia chasing 522, a target that, were they to achieve it, would set a new world record for the highest fourth innings total to win a Test, surpassing the 418 for seven made by the West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2002-2003.
Victory for either side would see them go 1-0 up in the five-Test series, after England’s final two batsmen clung on for a draw in last week’s opener at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.
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