Flintoff gets Moores sympathy
England coach Peter Moores feels for injury-jinxed Andrew Flintoff but remains hopeful the national side’s prize asset will be fit to face India on Wednesday.
Flintoff missed Sunday’s rain-affected defeat to India at Headingley Carnegie, which saw England’s lead in the NatWest Series reduced to 3-1, after feeling more discomfort in his left ankle.
Having already missed last week’s victory at Edgbaston with an unrelated knee niggle, Flintoff jarred his ankle, which has been operated on three times in the past couple of years, in a foot hole at Old Trafford last Thursday.
He will be reassessed at practice on Tuesday at the Brit Oval, while fellow all-rounder Ravi Bopara (dislocated thumb) and fast bowler Chris Tremlett (foot) are also under current observation.
Having missed the entire home international summer prior to this seven-match campaign against India, Flintoff will be understandably down about his current plight.
“Yes, I feel for him,” said Moores. “He has been great since he has been back. He has had a real buzz about him - a real energy - and people have seen that when he has been on the field.
“You could see he had his passion back which is what he is like when he plays his best cricket.
“He has been a real boost for the squad and has been involved in deciding how we should play in one-day cricket, which has been really helpful for myself, Paul Collingwood and the team.
“He has been sat on his backside for a long time and he desperately wants to play.
“The people I have spoken to so far are still pretty optimistic and he may be okay on Wednesday. Then he can get on and play the sort of cricket he loves to do.
“All we can do is go through the right processes and keep our fingers crossed that the ankle will settle down. It isn’t too major - he can get himself away and it becomes a manageable problem.”
Flintoff roared back on to the international stage by clocking deliveries in excess of 90 miles per hour on his comeback at the Rose Bowl before claiming a maiden ODI five-wicket haul in the second match.
His participation in the remainder of the NatWest Series remains uncertain, and decisions are also pending over whether he and Bopara can travel to South Africa on Sunday for the ICC World Twenty20.
So will England be prepared to gamble on players who are not 100 per cent fit?
“It depends what the injury is,” said Moores. “You can’t take anybody that is too injured because the tournament is so short.
“It starts on the 12th and finishes on the 25th and there is a quick turnaround in games.
“It depends where the player is at. If we are sure that it is a bit of a niggle and it will recover in a couple of days and we are confident then we will take them, but if it is a longer-term thing then they might have to be replaced.
“Twenty20 is an important tournament. One, because it is the first one, and two, because there will be a huge buzz around it.
“We want to compete well in it but you can’t play people if they are not fit. But if they are fit and the medics say they are fine then we will take the strongest squad we have.
"We will be a lot clearer with everybody over the next 24 to 48 hours.”
Injuries have also made the decision of which players will be awarded central contracts more difficult.
“We are a long way down the line but there are a couple of discussions still ongoing,” confirmed Moores.
“It is more difficult this year because of injuries and whatever else, and there has been quite a change in the people playing cricket for England.
“We have seen some people emerge. It is a tough one. The whole idea is to pick players who have a great chance of playing regularly in the next 12 months, and also as a means of controlling the volume of cricket they play, especially the bowlers.
“These things have been taken into consideration. People have to earn a central contract. If I believe they have earned one then they will get one and that will be how they are chosen.”