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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 12:39 GMT
Flintoff and Butcher stay hopeful
Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff was at the crease as England clinched a series win
England team-mates Andrew Flintoff and Mark Butcher both expect to be fit in time for the start of the 2005 season.

Flintoff is set to undergo ankle surgery, while Butcher is still waiting to hear whether he needs an operation on his damaged wrist.

"It is just a case of getting this window of opportunity," said Flintoff, on his arrival home from South Africa.

"It has come to the point where I need to get it done and there was no other time," he added.

Butcher, meanwhile, was only able to play in two of the five Tests in South Africa after spraining his left wrist in Cape Town.

"I'm likely to be out for two months, but still hope to be able to lead Surrey out at the start of the season," he told BBC Southern Counties Radio.

"I've had three or four great years missing no cricket and suddenly it's been a disappointing six months."

M Butcher
Butcher captains Surrey in 2005

Apart from leading Surrey, Butcher hopes to regain his England place in time for the Ashes series against Australia.

"This time we go into it with a reputation having won four series on the bounce including South Africa away from home.

"But you can see that Australia are playing as good cricket as ever, so it will be a cracking series and only time will tell if we're good enough to take the Ashes back off them.

"Certainly we've got the best chance I've seen since I made my debut back in 1997," he said.

"They realise that this England team cannot be written off and treated with the disdain that they may have done in previous years. They will want to strike psychological blows early, in terms of their media and their players.

"At the same time we need to stand up to it and take it with a pinch of salt. I always think it's slightly tongue and cheek."

Optimistic Butcher eyes comeback
16 Jan 05 |  England


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