Flintoff sits out tour match

England v West Indies
Andrew Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff will play no part against West Indies A as he rests a side problem

Andrew Flintoff will not be risked in England's final warm-up game ahead of the Test series in the Caribbean.

The all-rounder, 31, has not been included in the team to face West Indies A in the first-class fixture at Warner Park which begins tomorrow.

Scan results on the side strain showed “no major damage”, but the tourists are taking the cautious route just a week away from the first Test against West Indies at Sabina Park.

"He is still a little sore but the scan results were good, so hopefully he will be ready for the first Test," said Andy Flower, who is fronting the coaching staff on this trip.

Flintoff pulled out of the opening contest of the 11-week tour - against a St Kitts & Nevis XI - after making just 11 on the first day, complaining of discomfort in his left side.

If he features in the opening Test of the four-match series starting next Wednesday, he will not have had any serious opportunity to bat or bowl in match conditions for six weeks.

"It's not ideal but he'll certainly be okay bowling-wise," Flower added. "Ideally we would have liked him to have got a longer hit in the middle but that is not going to be.

"But he could go straight into a Test match; he's experienced enough to go straight in."

Flintoff has history with this type of injury - it delayed his international comeback last summer - and his rehabilitation will be gradual until the natural deadline for bowling at full pelt arrives in the first net sessions in Jamaica.

Ryan Sidebottom

Injury-hit Ryan Sidebottom will stake his claim for a Test spot during the final warm-up game

“Without a doubt, he will have to bowl on Monday and Tuesday of next week,” Flower said. “The medical guys will give him a progression to go through and he will have to do that before the first Test.”

Middlesex batsman Owais Shah, who made an unbeaten century against St Kitts, will get a chance to press his claims for a place after recovering from a scratched cornea.

Nottinghamshire duo Graeme Swann and Ryan Sidebottom will also get their first opportunities of the tour, making up a four-man attack with Steve Harmison and James Anderson.

Sidebottom, England's current player of the year, will be fast-tracked back into international action if he can get through his first first-class outing in six months.

A plethora of injuries have sidelined the 31-year-old since South Africa completed victory over England in the Edgbaston Test on August 2.

But Flower appeared to reveal Sidebottom's standing in the current pecking order when, considering whether one match was enough after such a lay-off, he said: “Definitely. Left-arm swing bowlers are very valuable so if he can get through that unscathed and bowl at the right pace, then certainly he is a strong contender.

“It is a long time since he has played but he bowled at full pace yesterday, for three proper spells.

“He will know how his body feels after that, then go through this hard game and if he is right he will play.”

Stuart Broad's display, after deputising for Flintoff in the last few days, showed the tour selectors he has turned up in the Caribbean in good fettle.

Steve Harmison

Steve Harmison is among the cluster of seam bowlers vying for a place in the Test line-up

The 22-year-old will be among those sitting out the match against the West Indies second string, but Flower said: “Broady could come into the Test match, having not played this game, and not suffer for it.

“We saw that in India, when he came into the second Test and bowled beautifully.”

Harmison was the scourge of West Indies in Jamaica five years ago, producing one of England's all-time great bowling performances to claim 7-12.

He is in contention for a chance to reproduce these heroics if he can hit his straps this week.

Flower added: “He's done some hard work in the off-time he has had, between the last tour and now, and is getting another go in this game, so we will see how he goes.

“There is healthy competition there, yes. Obviously we have our ideas of what our side might be but fast-bowling places are up for grabs.

“I don't think form five years ago does have a bearing on picking the side. You're making a judgement about the pitch and form right now. That's important.”

Nottinghamshire off-spinner Swann completes the team's four-pronged bowling unit - the same configuration used in 2006 when Flintoff was unavailable and captain Andrew Strauss in temporary charge.

“A lot of successful sides have used that balance,” Flower said. “Your spinner has to bowl a lot of overs in that instance and we will monitor that.”

Team to face West Indies A: Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Owais Shah, Matt Prior (wicketkeeper), Graeme Swann, Ryan Sidebottom, James Anderson, Steve Harmison.

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