Strauss backs Flintoff impact

England v West Indies
Andrew Flintoff & Amjad Khan

Andrew Flintoff's return will be a major boost for England

England welcome back Andrew Flintoff into their line-up today hoping he can provide the missing inspiration required to take advantage of the batting power plays.

The 31-year-old all-rounder returns to action in the third encounter of the five-match one-day series having been on the sidelines for the last month with hip problems.

And captain Andrew Strauss believes Flintoff is such an inspirational figure, his presence in the middle order may make all the difference for the first of two matches in three days in Bridgetown.

"He's sounding very confident about his body and he's raring to go," enthused Strauss. "You could almost see in the nets yesterday how excited he is about getting onto a cricket pitch again.

"Freddie is one of those guys who can win you a game with either bat or ball in international cricket, which is very, very rare. He's got the potential to have a decisive impact on the series."

Flintoff's ability to hit big shots will certainly be useful to England after amassed 17 and 32 from their previous two attempts to maximise their scoring.

"I think the batting power play definitely adds a different dynamic to one-day cricket," explained Strauss. "You have to decide when to take it, how late to take it and how many wickets you need in hand in order to make best use of it.

"From a fielding point of view it also gives you the opportunity to take wickets when the game might be going away from you.

"It definitely adds a new dynamic in there and my view is that wickets in hand towards the back end of the game are even more important now with the batting power players than they have been in the past."

England are expecting a quicker wicket in Bridgetown than they experienced last week in Guyana and Strauss conceded it was not easy to decide who should make way.

"Someone has to be dropped and after only two games there are no obvious candidates to be dropped, but that is a minor problem when you put it into the context of having Fred back in the side," he said.

"Fred contributes massively with bat and ball. You decide what is the best balance of the side to win a game of one-day international cricket and then you fit him in according to where he will do best."

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