Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Cricket:Flintoff passed fit for Edgbaston

Third Ashes Test, Edgbaston: England v AustraliaDates: Thursday, 30 July to Monday, 3 August Start time: 1100 BSTCoverage: Live Test Match Special commentary (from 1025 BST on day one, 1045 BST on remaining days) on BBC Radio 4 LW, 5 Live sports extra, the Red Button and BBC Sport website. Live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobile phones. Also live on Sky Sports.

England captain Andrew Strauss expects all-rounder Andrew Flintoff to play a full part in the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston, which starts on Thursday.
The Lancastrian has undergone intensive treatment on an ongoing knee problem, but Strauss said: "Barring any dramatic stuff overnight, he'll be fit."
England, who lead 1-0 in the series, will pick from a 12-man squad after spinner Monty Panesar was released.
Australia are expected to keep faith with misfiring bowler Mitchell Johnson.
The paceman, who came into the series with a burgeoning reputation following a series of match-winning displays against South Africa earlier this year, has struggled in the first two Tests.
The left-armer took a total of eight wickets at an average of 41.37 from the Cardiff and Lord's Tests, and was then hammered for 107 runs in 18.1 overs, taking only one wicket, in a tour match against Northamptonshire last week.
But asked if he had considered dropping Johnson, Australia captain Ricky Ponting replied: "No, to tell you the truth.
"There has been a lot of talk about his technique and his action being all over the place. (But) we have had some good close looks at that and it is actually not.
The third Test will end in a draw, simple - the weather forecast is pants - England to take a 1-0 lead going into the final two tests
"I think right at the moment it is more of a confidence thing and we will probably use him more as a strike impact type of bowler."
Johnson's form is in stark contrast to Flintoff, who produced a sensational spell of bowling on the fifth morning at Lord's to lead England to a 115-run victory.
The 31-year-old has been sleeping with a special 'Game Ready' compression wrap - designed from NASA spacesuit technology - around his troublesome knee, which helps to remove fluid and reduce inflammation.
And his fitness, proven over two days of intensive workouts leading up to Thursday's start, is a major boost for England following the loss of star batsman Kevin Pietersen to an Achilles injury.
Warwickshire batsman Ian Bell will come into the side as Pietersen's replacement on his home ground, despite a concern earlier this week over a slight ankle problem.
And Strauss is tipping him to return to the side "a better player" since being dropped in February.
I think he's going to be a better batsman for that experience
Strauss on Ian Bell
"A player of the calibre of Ian Bell coming in is very reassuring. He's a proven Test performer, he's played in the Ashes before and he's done that spell out of the side that a lot of us have been through.
"Ian's done a lot of work. We sent him away and it was a pretty bitter pill to swallow. He's done a lot of fitness work, scored a lot of runs for Warwickshire, he's done everything we've asked of him and he's had to dig pretty deep to do that.
"I think he's going to be a better batsman for that experience. It makes you very, very hungry when you come back in."
That means England's only selection issue would appear to be the final pace-bowling spot, with Steve Harmison vying to replace Durham team-mate Graham Onions.
Onions, who took 3-91 at Lord's, has been suffering with a slight hand injury, but is widely expected to get the nod again, despite Harmison being the leading wicket-taker in County Championship division one this season.
However, England will not name their final starting XI until the morning of the match, with the Edgbaston pitch causing some concern.
Groundsman Steve Rouse described the surface as "jelly" last week, and the outfield was still covered in pools of water on Wednesday, despite warmer weather in recent days helping to dry the Test strip.

Twenty five runs is not what I am after in this game. I'm after a big score
Ricky Ponting
"I am actually a bit surprised that the wicket itself is so dry but there's plenty of rain around still," noted Ponting, who believes spin will still have a part to play.
Heavy rain showers are forecast for Thursday, which could see a delayed start, with more rain expected on Saturday and Sunday after sunny intervals on Friday.
With conditions expected to favour seam bowling, Australia could recall either Shane Watson or Stuart Clark, but are still without Brett Lee, who is recuperating from a side strain which has kept him out of the first two Test matches.
Meanwhile, Ponting has the chance to become his country's highest run-scorer in Test cricket.
The 34-year-old needs only 25 runs to overhaul Allan Border's record tally of 11,174 runs, and averages 56.31 for his country since making his debut against Sri Lanka in Perth during the 1995-96 series.
But he insists he would swap the record for victory at Edgbaston in a heartbeat, saying: "I must admit I haven't thought about it at all. I've got bigger fish to fry than than that right at the moment.
"Twenty five runs is not what I am after in this game. I'm after a big score. I haven't thought about it since the end of the Lord's Test.
"We are looking to get level in this series."
England (from): Strauss (capt), Cook, Bopara, Bell, Collingwood, Prior, Flintoff, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Onions, Harmison
Australia (from): Hughes, Katich, Ponting (capt), Hussey, Clarke, North, Watson, Haddin, Hauritz, Hilfenhaus, Johnson, McDonald, Siddle, Clark, Manou.

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