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Page last updated at 07:27 GMT, Saturday, 30 May 2009 08:27 UK

Flintoff fitness vital - Ponting


Report - Ashes mind games begin

Australia captain Ricky Ponting says England may be better off without Andrew Flintoff in their Ashes side, unless the key player is 100% fit.

Ponting said Flintoff was not the force he had been in 2005 when he led England to a 5-0 defeat in Australia 18 months later after an injury comeback.

"Flintoff is obviously very important to England's set-up," said Ponting.

"Maybe, as we saw in 2007, if he's not 100% fit then maybe that sort of impact he can have is not there."

Ponting, whose team are currently based in Nottingham preparing for the ICC World Twenty20, begin their five-Test Ashes defence on 8 July.


He was happy to give his views on Flintoff, who tore knee cartilage while playing in the Indian Premier League in April - and was subsequently ruled out of all England's international cricket until the Ashes.

Whether or not to field Flintoff in the first Test at Cardiff - perhaps on the back of just a game or two for Lancashire - will be "the great decision the England selectors are going to have to make," said Ponting.

"In 2005 and in 2007 we saw two completely different players and that had a lot to do with the level of fitness that he had under his belt going into each series.

"That's where they're going to have a tough decision to make."

Ponting 'very confident' of Ashes success

Ponting said he felt "relaxed, fresh and rejuvenated" after a four-week break from cricket.

And after team-mate Michael Hussey complimented England's new-found strength in depth, the Aussie skipper said his team would pose a severe challenge to the host team this summer.

"England played some very good cricket against the West Indies but the competition and opposition they'll be coming up against us is vastly stiffer than what they've faced in the last few weeks.

"I'm very confident we've got a group of guys here who will be well and truly good enough to win the series. I'm really excited about that."

Australia will be without Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist this summer but Ponting warned that his country's new breed will pose a real threat to England.

"With the transitional phase the team's been going through, where we are at the moment is very positive," he said.

"To see the Phillip Hugheses, Norths, Hilfenhauses, Peter Siddles and those guys come in and have immediate success has been very pleasing for me as captain of the team and one of the more experienced players."

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see also
Hussey expects close Ashes series
28 May 09 |  Cricket
Injured Flintoff out of Twenty20
27 May 09 |  England
Ponting wary of Flintoff effect
26 May 09 |  Cricket
Symonds misses out on Ashes squad
20 May 09 |  Australia
Aussies make Strauss Ashes target
19 May 09 |  Australia
Hughes benefits from Lord's visit
19 May 09 |  Middlesex
Aussies to retain Ashes - Boycott
05 May 09 |  England
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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