London: England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is to undergo a fresh rehabilitation programme in a bid to get fit for February's World Cup, it was announced on Wednesday. Lancashire favourite Flintoff, 25, flew home from England's tour of Australia Friday after failing to make a full recovery from a hernia operation carried out at the end of August.
Peter Gregory, the ECB's newly appointed chief medical officer, said, "Andrew has made an unexpectedly slow recovery, which is still incomplete despite undertaking programmes typically carried out by other sportsmen rehabilitating from this type of surgery. "But he has done all that has been asked of him in terms of rehabilitation and we have found no specific reason for the slowness of recovery. Failure of repair, infection, muscle/tendon tears and joint problems have all been excluded as the cause of injury. "At this stage, he remains weak in important muscles and is continuing to experience pain after short spells of fast bowling.
He will require more intensive one-to-one rehabilitation and arrangements are being made for this to begin immediately under the day-to-day supervision of the Lancashire medical team. "At this stage Andrew's rehabilitation is geared to his being able to prove himself properly match fit by mid-January. His fitness will be tested as rigorously as possible including simulation of ODI (One-day International) bowling demands in the nets in about a month if his rehabilitation progresses appropriately in the meantime and if he is selected for the 15-man World Cup squad."
Flintoff's failure to recover in time for the Ashes series has sparked an intense debate with the England selectors criticised for picking an unfit player. The decision, which was taken before Gregory's appointment, led former England captain Michael Atherton, once a county as well as international colleague of Flintoff's, to claim England's medical set-up was "amateurish". And outgoing ECB chairman Ian MacLaurin then entered the fray by suggesting Flintoff himself was to blame for his lack of fitness.
"I think Flintoff was doing things in his recuperation that he probably shouldn't have," MacLaurin said. However, his remarks were branded "disgusting" by England fast bowler Darren Gough, who trained alongside Flintoff ahead of the tour before he too was forced home early after failing to overcome a longstanding knee problem. England, along with all other 13 participating nations, are required by World Cup rules to name their final 15-man squads by December 31. The tournament gets underway in South Africa on February 8 with Australia looking to defend the title they won in England in 1999.