Warne sees Laurel-Hardy pair in Freddie-Strauss

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London: The Andrews -- Flintoff and Strauss -- make a Laurel-Hardy pair for their team, complementing each other and Strauss should not lose heart even though England picked ''Freddie' to lead the Ashes campaign, said flamboyant Australian leggie Shane Warne.

''I don't think there were too many surprises and I reckon cricket lovers will be pleased to hear that Freddie Flintoff will toss up with Ricky Ponting in Brisbane. After last year, people can't wait to see him live,'' Warne wrote in his times column.

''Freddie has become a good mate of mine and I know how much he wanted the job. That is always a good start. He will lead by example and somebody of that ability is bound to have the respect of the team. But although Andrew Strauss was overlooked, I think he will be more and more important to Fred in the months ahead.

''The Flintoff/Strauss combination could be pretty effective.

They remind me a bit of Laurel and Hardy -- although I saw Fred at a charity event on Monday and I probably shouldn't say that because he is rapidly fasting away into a rake. I suppose what I mean is, they are different characters who complement each other nicely,'' Warne elaborated.

The leggie also had a word of consolation for Strauss and he recalled his own experience to buttress his point.

''I have some sympathy for Strauss as I know what it is like to be in the running for the job and then not get it. In my case, Australia went for Steve Waugh instead. Initially I felt very down and wondered if I just wasn't good enough. You have to be realistic and move on. Strauss is a composed man and will quickly get over the disappointment,'' he explained.

Warne also refused to call the injury-depleted English side a weaker one.

''...I don't agree that England are weaker than a year ago. True, Simon Jones will be a big loss -- although there was no guarantee with his fitness record that he would survive the full series.

Michael Vaughan as captain is another who would have featured, but even there Alastair Cook has come in and scored runs,'' he said.

On the contrary, promising stumper Chris read and spin sensation Monty Panesar would bolster the side, Warne said.

''In a couple of areas I feel that England are actually stronger.

Chris Read is the best wicketkeeper in the country and Monty Panesar is a more dangerous and aggressive spin bowler than Giles. Ashley is a lovely guy and a great team player, but I think he will be there as back-up and support to Monty,'' he reasoned.

On Marcus Trescothick, who is out of action with ''personal issues'', Warne threw his weight behind the left-hander and said, ''I am a big believer in personal issues being exactly that. His situation is nobody's business except his own and it is just unfair to speculate. Having said that, I am sure that his own life would be easier if people had been upfront when he came back from India.''

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