Port Elizabeth (South Africa): England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff believes history will count for nothing when it faces reigning champion Australia in their World Cup Group 'A' match at St George's Park on Sunday. "This is the World Cup. It's a new tournament and we have to win to get through to the next round," the 25-year-old Flintoff said. England has lost its last 13 One-day Internationals against Australia and goes into this match on the back of an 82-run defeat against India at Kingsmead on Wednesday. And while England could still go through to the Super Sixes even if it loses, defeat on Sunday would leave its fate firmly in the hands of group rivals.
Favourite Australia has won all their matches so far and its record 256-run thrashing of Namibia was its 11th successive One-day International victory. Another win on Sunday will see Australia surpass the record for consecutive One-day International victories set by the West Indies in 1985. But Flintoff, whose two for 15 in 10 overs and 73-ball 64 were the lone England highlights in Wednesday's defeat, insisted England would not be on the back foot mentally when it took on Ricky Ponting's world-beaters again. "It's a massive game for us and whatever happened in the winter we will put to one side and we will just focus on Sunday. I've only played one game against them so there is no history there."
That Flintoff has not played more often against Australia is down to a groin injury, which troubled him during the home series against India earlier this year and subsequently wrecked his Ashes tour. "I was very disappointed with the groin injury. I did my rehab but it wasn't quite right when I went out there (Australia) and I had to go home and get fit for the World Cup." And Flintoff, a hard-hitting batsman and lively pace bowler, admitted he almost did not make it onto the plane to South Africa.
"When I was at home the specialist could not guarantee that I would be all right for the World Cup. "In December, when I sat down with him, he painted a pretty grim picture so I'm just happy to be here," added Flintoff, who was controversially criticised by former England cricket chief Ian MacLaurin for not taking his recovery seriously. And although he proved MacLaurin wrong, with a mature display against India, Flintoff said he took little personal satisfaction from his efforts.
"Irrespective of how I played, we were disappointed to lose. I may have put a decent performance in but it's the team that counts. If I'd gone for nought for 80 and got a duck it would not have mattered if England had won." Copyright AFP 2001