The Ashes is a cricket competition played between England and Australia. Composed by 5 matches, the particularity of Ashes regards as being held by the team that most recently won the Test series. If the test series is drawn, the team that currently holds the Ashes retains the trophy.
The 2005 edition of the Ashes, considered almost as “the greatest series of all”, brought cricket to a whole new fanbase as the game gripped the host nation in particular. The England captain Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff’s had a primary role in this sporting feat becoming the Player of the Series after leaving an indelible mark on all five matches.
Flintoff produced an incredible performance with both bat and ball and dragged his teammates during the competition lastly reaching the winning after 24 years of Australian supremacy. His personality brought him to become the first cricketer since Ian Botham to have a series named after him and to become the darling of the nation name across the country.
At least, this Ashes’ edition offered the opportunity to Andrew Flintoff to make an unexpected sports gesture which qualified him as an unforgettable sportsman.
Flintoff’s statistics from the 2005 Ashes read 402 runs at an average of 40 and 24 wickets (the most by an Englishman) with an average of 27. On the surface, not the most devastating of returns. But it was how he got his runs, and when he got his wickets, that elevated him.
Australia had won the first Test, so they were totally convinced to comfortably win the second Test. England was aware of the hugely important challenge. Looking for a 2-0 series lead, Australia were coasting for no loss. But Flintoff and his team stepped up to bowl the over of the series. During the last game, which alone merits a newspaper website dedicating to it for the several athletic gestures made by both nations, England managed the series leading 2-1, gifting to the nation a historic winning after 8 consecutive victories of the Australian selection since 1987.
As the rest of the English team side exploded with join and ran to celebrate in front of the cheering crowd, Andrew Flintoff walked over the playground to put his arm around the Australian Brett Lee to console him.
The sight of Flintoff consoling Lee on the wicket became at first the best picture of the series and then a fair play symbol for the whole sports world.
“I was taught as a kid always respect the opposition first and celebrate after, which I did.” he said. “I went over to Brett Lee and shook his hand and there’s that picture, where I whisper in his ear: ‘It’s 1-1, son.’”
The year ended with Flintoff the overwhelming winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Nowadays Ashes has retired from the national team, but he is considered as a hero not only for his sports skills but also for his inspiring example for the other sports players all around the world.
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