Flintoff confident of being fit for Ashes

Published: Thursday, February 10, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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London:England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has promised he will be fit in time for the forthcoming Ashes series against world champions Australia.

The 27-year-old missed the ongoing one-day series in South Africa after helping England to a 2-1 Test series wins against the Proteas in order to have surgery on a bone spur in his left ankle.

The Lancashire favourite, a hard-hitting batsman and lively pace bowler, has yet to play a Test against Australia and is expected to need at least three months of recovery time before returning to action.

Flintoff was on crutches at Carlisle racecourse, north-west England, on Wednesday where he saw his horse, also called 'Flintoff' finish second in a flat race, was in optimistic mood.

"I'll get fit for the Ashes. It's something I'm really looking forward to," said Flintoff who needed cortisone injections in order to keep playing as England won their first Test series in South Africa for 40 years.

He will aim to play a couple of county matches before the first Ashes Test at Lord's on July 21.

England are also due to face Australia - before the Ashes - in a triangular series with Bangladesh and a separate set of limited overs games against their oldest opponents.

"I've never played a Test match against Australia, although I've played in two or three one-day internationals," Flintoff added. "I think my rehab is three or four months, and we don't start until the end of July - so I've got plenty of time.

"I hope to get a few games in for Lancashire before then and try and get into some sort of form and hit the ground running."

England, currently ranked second in the ICC's world Test championship behind Australia, haven't won an Ashes series since 1986-87 but Flintoff said they were getting nearer and nearer to the undisputed kings of one day and test cricket.

"We are getting closer to them - and over the last 18 months since Michael Vaughan has taken over we've improved as a side."

"We won in South Africa not playing particularly well - but to beat the Australians we are going to have to be at the top of our game. It's something the side is excited about. It's the biggest challenge in cricket to play against the best in the world, and everyone is looking forward to it."

"I truly believe this year we have a great chance of winning the Ashes, although Australia are obviously a great team."

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