ICL: Indian Cricket League

Flintoff optimistic he’ll be fit for Test


England received a boost ahead of Wednesday’s opening Test against West Indies after Andrew Flintoff came through a long session in the nets at Sabina Park and indicated that he should be fit to play.

Flintoff, who injured his side in the tour opener last week, was considered doubtful but he has made a quicker than expected recovery. “All things are pointing to being all right, so barring a mishap tomorrow I should be fine,” he told the BBC. “It’s all right when you’re fresh. Having bowled today I’ll see how I cope tomorrow, send a couple more overs down and hopefully take it from there.”

“We’re cautiously optimistic at the moment,” Andrew Strauss, the captain, said. “Fred is ahead of where the medical staff wanted him, so that is really encouraging but you can never be 100% sure on these things until the day before the game. Once the scan came back with no tear, we were always keen to play him in the first Test but you never know how these things will react and how stiff and sore he is going to be. So far he looks as though as he has come through it well and we will see how he goes in the two practice days before the Test.”

If Flintoff does play then it will allow Strauss to go into the game with five front-line bowlers, something that will make his life easier after England struggled against a West Indies A side last weekend.

“Certainly the bowlers were forced to bowl a lot of overs and they responded very well,” said Strauss. “The way they kept bowling spell after spell after spell was encouraging and showed they are in pretty good physical condition. “It’s a little bit hard to say how incisive they were because this wicket was ridiculously flat.”

The other question mark surrounds Steve Harmison, who was dropped for England last Test in Mohali and who blew hot and cold in the drawn warm-up match in St Kitts. However, memories of his career-best 7 for 12 when England last played a Test at Sabina Park will be at the back of everyone’s minds. With the pitch likely to be fast, Harmison’s chances of a recall seem good.

“From Harmy’s point of view it was great for him to play two matches and get a lot of overs under his belt,” Strauss said. “We all know that the more Harmy bowls, the more rhythm he gets into and the quicker he gets it through as well. I think he got better and better each spell he bowled and he has definitely got his name in the hat. It was difficult to tell much from this last pitch but his areas were good and his pace increased throughout.”

Harmison himself, inevitably faced with a barrage of questions about his 2004 performance, was revealing little. “I don’t remember much about that day, it is a bit of a blur. I’m not really one for watching old tapes, so I can’t recall it specifically.

“I’m looking forward to going back, especially if they produce a wicket like that, but I don’t want to count any chickens.”

Source:Cricket News

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