Flintoff to resume bowling
Andrew Flintoff will provide England with a timely Ashes boost by bowling for the first time in an international in almost five months.
England captain Flintoff, 28, is on course to meet the original target set for him on arrival in India by getting a handful of overs in against West Indies tomorrow.
The team management have resisted any temptation to rush his comeback from ankle surgery with coach Duncan Fletcher revealing the plan in the first few days of net practice here.
Flintoff, who will only use himself sparingly at the Sardar Patel Stadium, has not bowled in an England shirt since June 4, during the third Test defeat to Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge.
“I’ve bowled in the nets over the past couple of weeks and responded well to everything,” said Flintoff. “I had 15 to 20 minutes bowling today and providing I don’t react to anything and I’m fine there is a chance I will have a go.
“I have no intention of bowling a full 10 under any circumstances.”
Flintoff goes into his seventh one-day game as England captain still seeking his first victory, something which he believes is important for other reasons.
“From our point of view we want to finish the tournament with a win,” Flintoff said. “We have been beaten twice but we’re playing for pride and pride is a strong thing to play for.
“We are a proud group of lads and we want to win a game of cricket in India.
“The West Indies may be through and we are going home but from our point of view we want to put on a good show.
“We have underperformed since we have been here and we would like to go home with a win.
“We know this is a team that can fight back, it has a lot of character and we will be trying our damnedest to take a win back with us to England.”
Flintoff is scheduled to walk out for the toss alongside Brian Lara, fitness permitting, a man he considers one of the greats of the sport.
Twice Lara has hit an England attack for a world-record score in his glittering career and Flintoff, a member of the bowling attack on the second occasion in Antigua, said: “He is up there, isn’t he?
“He’s a fantastic player and we have been on the wrong end of Brian Lara a couple of times. He does things that us mortals can’t.
“He has done some special things, he is one of the greatest the game has ever produced along with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Waugh and others going back to days gone by.”
Two batting collapses in the opening matches against India and Australia undermined England’s bid to address a woeful run of one-day form this year.
With an average score of 147 it has left the attack with an impossible task on both occasions but Flintoff praised their efforts in the face of adversity.
“I’ve been quite pleased with the way we’ve bowled, both sides have come at us hard early on but we have managed to get back into the game,” he said.
“When you are defending such scores it is asking a hell of a lot of your bowlers.
“We need to post a score or chase one down, it is time to perform.”
Although it is reasonable to expect England to stick to the side they put faith in for their previous outings here, one change they may contemplate is recalling Jon Lewis in place of the out-of-sorts Steve Harmison.