Vaughan relishes Flintoff return
Michael Vaughan is anticipating the return of all-rounder Andrew Flintoff to the England team to face New Zealand at some stage this summer and insisted: “We want him back.”
Vaughan welcomed Flintoff’s intention to return to international cricket at the earliest opportunity, offered encouragement to discarded new-ball pair Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison and revealed his wish to switch back to number three.
Flintoff plays his first LV County Championship of the season for Lancashire on Wednesday as he continues his comeback from ankle surgery last autumn.
And he has plenty of opportunity to prove form and primarily fitness ahead of the first Test, which begins on May 15.
“He has got three or four four-day games for Lancashire, so hopefully he will come through those with overs under his belt, runs by his name and give himself a good chance because we want him back,” said Vaughan.
“We want Freddie back, and in good form. An England side with Freddie in is a better team.”
How Flintoff’s left ankle holds up after four operations will clearly dictate whether he is ready for his much-craved international comeback, as the 33-year-old Vaughan is only too aware having overcome a career-threatening knee injury himself.
“He wants to be there,” added Vaughan. “He is the only one who knows what his ankle feels like.
“He hasn’t bowled 18 to 20 overs in a day yet and had to go out and bowl five or six the next day yet, so hopefully he will get through that.
“We just want him right, whether that means he misses the first game, second game and comes back for the third.
“I just want him back fit and ready; whether it’s first or third, that will do me. It is so important you listen to your body and know yourself.
“He wants to come back in form as well. That is why playing for Lancashire for a few games will give him an opportunity to get into some form.”
Vaughan believes Yorkshire colleague Hoggard and Durham pace bowler Harmison, both of whom have points to prove, will react favourably to losing their Test spots on the tour of New Zealand.
Of Hoggard, Vaughan said: “With him you know he is going to try to take wickets over the next month to make it hard for the selectors.
“Harmy has been given a harder time and I wouldn’t want to be a county batsman over the next month having to face him because I think he has got a bit of a bee in his bonnet and a point to prove.
“It is great for us that they are talking in the language of wanting desperately to get back in the team.
“That is exactly what I want. I certainly don’t think it is the end of their careers yet.”
Hoggard, England’s sixth most successful bowler in Test history with 248 wickets, said: “It was a big kick in the teeth, very disappointing - but it is part of international sport.
“You get the downs, which I am experiencing at the moment, but hopefully I can experience some more ups when I get back in the side.
“There is no greater motivation than plonking on a Yorkshire shirt or an England shirt. If you need any more motivation then you retire and go to the IPL.”
Vaughan, meanwhile, plays a three-day game for Yorkshire against Leeds/Bradford University starting on Wednesday and has been primed to open for the next month in county colours.
However, he will switch positions with Andrew Strauss when the international fixtures come around.
Vaughan recommended investing in a settled order before jetting off for the Test series in New Zealand but today confirmed: “I wouldn’t say I would carry on opening for England, no.
“We will have to sit down with (coach) Peter Moores and the selectors. Straussy is at three at the minute - he likes opening and I am at two and like batting at three - so maybe that will be a little bit of a change.”