Monday, 10 August 2009

Flintoff cleared for Ashes finale


England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is expected to be fit for the final Ashes Test starting at The Oval on 20 August.
The 31-year-old missed the fourth Test at Headingley but the swelling on his right knee had eased when it was assessed by a specialist on Monday.
In a statement, the England and Wales Cricket Board said that "subject to further rest and intensive treatment he will be available for selection".
If so, it will be Flintoff's final bow before retiring from Test cricket.
England captain Andrew Strauss was keen for an early decision to be made on whether Flintoff could feature, after he was only ruled out on the morning the fourth Test started.
Flintoff's agent Andrew Chandler claimed Flintoff had declared he was fit to play in Leeds but was overruled by Strauss and England coach Andy Flower.
Chandler said he had "never seen anybody as low" as Flintoff after the Lancashire star was told he would not be selected.
Flintoff is vital for England - Hayden
Flintoff's knee was examined by specialist Andy Williams on Monday and the player will continue to be monitored ins his attempts to ensure one last appearance on the Test stage at the The Oval.
Flintoff, the star of England's epic Ashes triumph of 2005, announced before the second match at Lord's that he was going to quit Test cricket after this series because of his ongoing injury problems.
The all-rounder has had an influential role in the current Ashes battle, taking 5-92 on the final day to inspire victory at Lord's, and top-scoring for his team with 74 in the draw at Edgbaston.
If the medics say there's still a problem there, then we have to accept what their viewpoint is
England chairman of selectors Geoff Miller
"He's still desperate to play in that final Test, but he realises he's got to be fit enough," Strauss said on Sunday.
"Maybe he doesn't need to bowl 28 overs a day, but he's got to be able to bowl more than one spell and we felt for this game he was unable to do that.
"Having had a couple of weeks break, hopefully he will be in better shape for The Oval."
England need to win at The Oval to wrest back the Ashes from Australia, who levelled the series at 1-1 with their emphatic innings victory at Headingley.
Flintoff was replaced by paceman Steve Harmison in Leeds, but his return would restore the balance of the side and give the selectors more options in terms of their bowling attack.
Harmison could be retained if they opt for outright pace and hostility on what is expected to be a hard Oval pitch, where the possibility of playing two spinners - with Monty Panesar joining Graeme Swann - has also been mooted.
Meanwhile, chairman of selectors Geoff Miller has defended the decision to omit Flintoff at Headingley.
"We had to guarantee that 'Fred' could do the job required to bowl the overs," Miller told BBC Radio 5 live.
"We'd been monitoring his injury day by day and the selectors felt that it was better that he didn't play in that game.
"Yes, he might have thought he was fit to do a certain job, but we had to work out whether he'd be fit to do a constant job, meaning bowl the amount of overs required to get the 20 wickets.
"We have to go on the medical advice. We know that Freddie's passionate to play for England, I accept that, but there are a lot of other ideals we have to work to, such as taking medical advice.
"If the medics say there's still a problem there, then we have to accept what their viewpoint is."
Flintoff was conspicuous by his absence from the England balcony for the duration of the Headingley Test, but Miller said there is no rift.
"Everything is fine with 'Fred'. No problems whatsoever," he said. "He knows the situation, he knows there's a problem there and we will monitor that day by day.
"The England side, when Freddie's performing to his maximum as we saw at Lord's, is a terrific side and it disappoints him when he's not playing."

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