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 Flintoff Set For One-Day Return

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PostSubject: Flintoff Set For One-Day Return   Mon Aug 06, 2007 7:56 am

England will name Andrew Flintoff in one of their squads for the first time this summer today with the selectors insisting his inclusion is not a gamble on his long-term fitness.

The 29-year-old all-rounder has not been seen in an England shirt since this winter’s ill-fated World Cup campaign, after which he suffered a recurrence of his left ankle problems and was forced to undergo another operation.

He has only just returned to action for Lancashire, featuring in last week’s championship defeat to leaders Sussex and the Twenty20 semi-final loss to Gloucestershire, bowling 11 overs in the two matches, and plans to play a full part in this week’s Roses match at Headingley.

But such is his importance to England’s side the selectors will have no hesitation in naming him in their squad for the ICC World Twenty20 and the seven-match NatWest Series against India, which begins at the Rose Bowl on August 21, to be announced by chairman of selectors David Graveney today.

“As far as we’re concerned Freddie is fit and eligible for both squads,” confirmed Graveney.

“All the reports we have received are that he is making good progress and he should be able to take part. The medical experts seem very pleased with him and we will be guided by their advice.

“Quite rightly we are being cautious because we have been down this road before with him and it’s important we don’t rush him back because we want him part of the England squad for some time to come.

“He has had a very important week with the championship match against Sussex at Liverpool, the Twenty20 finals day and has the Roses match at Headingley next week — he will not get much tougher cricket than that.

“Freddie wants to do well for Lancashire and help his county and hopefully those games will also give him the necessary overs he needs to get under his belt,” he added.

Flintoff’s absence from both Test and one-day sides this year has caused the selectors a problem in deciding whether to add an extra batsman or bowler to their line-up without the natural balance the Lancastrian provides.

But as they turn their thoughts to the one-day part of their winter, which begin with the ICC World Twenty20 championships which follow almost immediately on from the one-day series against India, Graveney is delighted to have their influential all-rounder available again for selection.

“Freddie is crucial for both teams because he balances the side so well,” conceded Graveney. “When he isn’t around we have to either weaken the batting side of the team or the bowling — as Rahul Dravid was quick to point out in the previous Test, it’s not as easy without Freddie!”

England bowling coach Allan Donald has admitted he has concerns about the manner in which Flintoff lands his ankle in his delivery stride, which tends to twist as he bowls, but admits it would be “very difficult” to alter his style at this stage of his career.

Flintoff, though, remains happy with his progress and admitted: “I’m probably a little bit ahead of schedule from where I was. I’ve worked hard with (Lancashire physio) Dave Roberts and bowled against Sussex and it felt good.

“I ran in and I feel as though there is more in the tank and I can take it up a couple of gears but it came out nicely and felt easy — I’m not fully there but I’m pleased with where I’m at,” he added.
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