Strauss hopeful over Flintoff

England v West Indies
Andrew Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff bowled the equivalent of six overs in the middle before day three play

England captain Andrew Strauss is "cautiously optimistic" that all-rounder Andrew Flintoff will be fit for Wednesday's first Test against West Indies in Jamaica.

Flintoff, 31, has been sidelined with a side strain since the first day of competitive action in the Caribbean but showed distinct signs of a recovery today by bowling at full tilt before the final day of the draw with West Indies A.

He sent down the equivalent of six overs in the middle at Warner Park, gradually building up his pace throughout the spell.

“'Fred' is ahead of where the medical staff wanted him,” said Strauss. “So that is really encouraging. But you can never be 100% sure on these things until the day before the game.

“We are cautiously optimistic at the moment.

“Once the scan came back with no tear, we were always keen to play him in the first Test but you never know how these things will react and how stiff and sore he is going to be.

“So far he looks as though as he has come through it well and we will see how he goes in the two practice days before the Test.”

Flintoff's presence in the XI would help balance the side, thus presenting Strauss with five bowling options.

England totalled 414 in their innings at Warner Park, in reply to West Indies A’s 574 for eight declared.

Paul Collingwood & Devon Thomas

Paul Collingwood seized the opportunity in his first game of the tour with a solid last-day knock of 82

The tourists were made to toil in the field, but three players, Strauss (97), Kevin Pietersen (90) and Paul Collingwood (82) all contributed encouraging knocks.

“It was not an ideal work out but it was a pretty good one," Strauss added.

“Certainly the bowlers were forced to bowl a lot of overs and they responded very well.

“The way they kept bowling spell after spell after spell was encouraging and showed they are in pretty good physical condition.

“It is a little bit hard to say how incisive they were because this wicket was ridiculously flat.

“Our fielding could have been a bit better but batting wise just about everybody has at least one decent knock in the middle.

“We head to Jamaica with just about as much as we could have got out of this practice time.

“Clearly when the Test match comes along there will be a need to raise intensity and sharpen up all aspects.”

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