Andy Flower, the England team director, has cast doubts over whether Andrew Flintoff will ever again play international cricket, but expressed hope that Kevin Pietersen will be available for England’s forthcoming tour of South Africa. Speaking after his latest round of knee surgery last week, Flintoff admitted he was uncertain as to whether he would fulfil his ambition of representing England in the 50- and 20-over arenas. Flower harbours similar concerns.
Andrew Flintoff has admitted there is a chance he may never play at the highest level again after his latest knee surgery but is aiming for a comeback in February 2010. Flintoff underwent routine arthroscopy and micro-fracture to two small areas in his right knee a day after England regained the Ashes, and was expected to be on crutches for a minimum of six weeks.
Amid scenes of delirium unwitnessed in South London since the unforgettable summer of 2005, England’s cricketers reclaimed the Ashes on a tumultuous fourth afternoon at The Oval, as Australia’s brave resistance – led by a century of incredible mental fortitude from Michael Hussey – was unpicked, wicket by wicket, minute by minute, until, at 5.47pm, and with an expectant crowd willing on the moment of glory, Hussey prodded Graeme Swann to Alastair Cook at short leg to spark the celebrations into life.
Stuart Broad produced a bowling performance to rival that of Andrew Flintoff at Lord’s, and Graeme Swann chimed in with four vital wickets on a dry and dusty track, as Australia felt their grip on the Ashes being prised away, finger by finger, on a sensational second day at The Oval. Responding to England’s first-innings 332, the Aussies collapsed from a confident but never comfortable 61 for 0 at lunch to 160 all out shortly after tea, conceding a first-innings deficit of 172 in the process, as well as every ounce of the momentum they had established during their fourth-Test triumph at Headingley.
Andrew Flintoff did not bowl during England’s final practice session at The Oval on Wednesday, but whereas at Headingley that might have been taken as cause for alarm, this time around it is nothing more than a precaution. On Thursday morning, barring a late and unexpected set-back, Flintoff and his dodgy right knee will front up for England for one final time in Test cricket, with the Ashes on the line and his legacy up for grabs.
Thursday, August 20-24, 2009
Start time 11.00 (10.00 GMT)
For the second time in four years, the destination of the Ashes will be decided at the same venue where the legend was conceived way back in 1882. In 2005, The Oval in South London was the stage for one of the most wildly celebrated draws of all time, as a jittery England overcame their final-day nerves, thanks to an eye-poppingly aggressive 158 from Kevin Pietersen, a performance that carried his team clear of disaster and all the way to an open-top bus parade through Trafalgar Square the following morning.
Mark Butcher the recently retired former captain of Surrey, has dismissed as “madness” the speculation surrounding a possible recall for his county team-mate Mark Ramprakash, and believes there is no way that England will resort to a one-off call-up for a 39-year-old batsman who has not featured in Test cricket since 2002.
Speaking to Cricinfo at an MCC Chance to Shine event in East London, Butcher believed that Ramprakash would undoubtedly rise to the occasion if named on Sunday morning in England’s squad for the decisive fifth Test at The Oval, but added that the whole issue had been drummed up by a “panicking” media, following England’s humiliating two-and-a-half day defeat at Headingley that left the Ashes all-square with just next Thursday’s Oval Test to come.
The Times has reported that Andrew Flintoff had declared himself fit for the fourth Ashes Test only to be overlooked by England’s captain and coach. At the Headingley post-match presentation, Michael Atherton – who wrote the story in the Times – asked Andrew Strauss who was responsible for not picking Flintoff and the answer was Strauss and Andy Flower.
England captain Andrew Strauss said the team would not rush a decision on whether Andrew Flintoff was fit to play in the fourth Ashes Test, despite how it might affect the rest of the squad.
England fans are desperate for Flintoff, the pace bowling hero of their side’s second Test win over Australia at Lord’s and their batting star of the drawn third Test at Edgbaston, to play when the fourth match of the Ashes series starts here at Headingley on Friday (today).
Michael Clarke the Australia vice-captain, has joined Andrew Flintoff as a key injury concern ahead of the crucial fourth Test in Headingley from Friday. While Flintoff, who was named in England’s 14 man squad, is having his knee problem monitored daily, Clarke has begun regular treatment for a stomach strain picked up during his unbeaten 103 at Edgbaston on Monday.
Clarke’s century, his 12th in Tests, ensured Australia left Birmingham with a draw and kept them within one match of levelling the five-game series. He will not train at Headingley on Wednesday and pulled out of a promotional appearance in Leeds on Tuesday night.