Flintoff eyes Test return
Andrew Flintoff is adamant he will be fit for the first npower Test of the summer against New Zealand at Lord’s on May 15 if selected.
But the 30-year-old all-rounder is still urging caution over his rehabilitation from a fourth operation on his problematic left ankle.
The former England skipper is in line to “start the season playing a full part” for his county Lancashire, beginning with three days of friendly cricket against Yorkshire at Old Trafford on Monday.
“There is a Test match on May 15 which I would love to be involved in," said Flintoff.
“I have missed a lot of international cricket through injury and I don’t want to miss any more - or at least as little as I have to. But I am under no illusions that if I am to get back in that side then I have to be fit and playing well.
“I would love to put my name in the hat but even if I am playing well they have just won two Test matches on the bounce. I would just like to be in the mix.
“As much as you can go on about May 15, and getting back into the England side, there is a lot of cricket at Lancashire at the start of the season. If you look at the fixtures early in the season we have not only got a lot of Championship cricket but also a lot of one-day cricket.
“I would love to be involved but I am not going to get ahead of myself. I know that it is a bit of a cliche but let’s just take it day by day.”
Flintoff believes the England and Lancashire medical teams have got his recovery right by the virtue of not rushing anything.
He was eased back into action on the club’s recent pre-season tour of the United Arab Emirates, where he bowled a total of nine overs against Sussex and Yorkshire in Abu Dhabi.
He has since upped his work rate, bowling at close to full speed for spells of between five to eight overs in the Old Trafford nets.
Lancashire cricket manager Mike Watkinson said his star man had been bowling with “good gas”, and Flintoff continued: “We have just taken more time this time - there is nothing we have rushed back for.
“We have made a concerted effort this time not to rush my rehab. There has been nothing like in the past where there has been an Ashes or a World Cup to rush back for. This time we have taken our time and got it right.
“We are at such a late stage now it would be foolish to push it too much.
“I ask on a daily basis what I am doing with my programme and I just get on with it. I have been bowling between five to eight overs a day. Everybody says I am bowling at 70 or 80% but I am not far off bowling flat out.
“I have seen what the surgeon took out of it (the ankle) and I am confident that it will be fine. I would by lying if I said that there wasn’t a niggling little bit of doubt in the back of my mind somewhere - after four operations I think that is inevitable.
“But I just hope that if you ask me that in July, with 150 or 200 overs under my belt, then I will still be all right.”
According to Flintoff, the correct decision was also made to withdraw him from the MCC’s friendly against Sussex at Lord’s next Thursday. He is set to make his competitive comeback against Surrey in the LV County Championship.
He added: “It would have been nice to play in the MCC fixture but if you look at the early season we have got a lot of cricket.
“It was felt that eight days of cricket in 10 or 11 days is a lot. The right decision has been made for me to start the season at The Oval.”