Don’t go Freddie!
Andrew Flintoff was back to his brilliant best as England went 1-0 up in the 2009 Ashes series.
Midway through the fifth day at Cardiff it seemed like England we're going to be in for a really tough summer as they were heading for a crushing defeat, but James Anderson and Monty Panesar somehow held on for a draw with a dogged batting performance to frustrate the outstanding Aussies.
Fast forward to Lord's and England looked like the team that performed so well in the joyous 2005 series.
England's bowling attack struggled in Cardiff, with four players for Australia getting centuries, but they we're excellent in the 2nd Test with only one session getting away from them when Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin put on a brilliant stand of 185 to delay England's celebrations for another day.
Flintoff, of course, was the man to finally put an end to the 6th wicket partnership getting Haddin to edge one to Paul Collingwood and from there on in he was on a mission to get the job finished as soon as possible.
Graeme Swann certainly played his part on the final morning getting the crucial wickets of Clarke and Mitchell Johnson, who barely raised a smile when he reached his half century such was the inevitability of the result, but in reality it was the Freddie Flintoff show.
In a devastating performance, the fast bowler looked like getting a wicket every time he steamed in, and most of the time he very nearly did. In the end Flintoff 'settled' on 5-92, his third five wicket haul and his second against the Aussies.
It makes you wonder how he can possibly think of retiring from Test cricket with performances like that.
Unfortunately though the series of injuries that he's suffered from over the last few years are catching up with him, and it was pretty obvious with the amount of time that he spent off the pitch in between spells that the rigours of Test cricket are now too much for his body to cope with.
Who now can possibly replace him when he hangs up his Test boots after the Oval match at the end of August?
There doesn't look to be a like for like replacement but with England's tail-end performing fairly solidly in the last few years perhaps an allrounder isn't as vital and maybe the door might be back open for Steve Harmison.
As a bowler he's very similar to Flintoff; he can hit the deck hard from a big height, he regularly bowls at 90mph+ and he genuinely frightens batsmen. A few of the Aussie legends that have been speaking in the media have expressed their surprise at Harmison's exclusion from the squad, personally it didn't come as a huge shock to me to see Harmison left out of the first two Test squads but if Flintoff doesn't stay fit throughout the series then you can be sure that Harmy will be high up in the queue to replace him.
England aren't short of options in the bowling department and the three first team regulars aside from Flintoff have healthy batting averages.
Anderson, England's saviour from the 1st Test, holds the record for the most Test appearances without a duck at 51 and recently has proved a difficult wicket to claim averaging just over 27 in the last two years.
Stuart Broad is a technically fine batsman with a good array of shots and has three Test 50's to his name, averaging just under 30. He might not be as explosive as Flintoff at the crease but is someone that can be relied upon to add runs lower down the order.
Swann is another solid batsman who actually has a higher batting average than Flintoff at 37.40 and played a big part in helping England draw the 1st Test with knocks of 47 and 31.
One player who I think has been harshly treated is Matthew Hoggard, the Yorkshireman was a vital part of the victorious 2005 Ashes series and never really had many bad games for England but he hasn't been seen since the 1st Test of the tour of New Zealand in 2008 and more than likely won't be seen in England colours again.
Another Yorkshireman, Ryan Sidebottom had a lengthy spell out of the England team after making his debut in 2001 against Pakistan, before returning with devastating effect to get match figures of 8-86 against West Indies in 2007. He's had mixed success since then though and while he can get the ball to swing he's not as consistent as Anderson and Broad have been recently and is probably behind Harmison in the pecking order.
Simon Jones is another bowler who excelled in 2005 but, much like Flintoff, has been blighted by injury since then and hasn't even come close to regaining full fitness let alone trying to find the form to get back into the England squad.
The England board of selectors certainly have a tough choice to make at the end of August but my belief is that Test batsmen will once again be subjected to some grievous bodily harm from the right hand of Steve Harmison.