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Andrew Flintoff is quizzed by 5Live's Peter Allen
"I'll have to score some runs and keep the papers quiet"
 real 28k

England captain Nasser Hussain
"I am very concerned about his fitness"
 real 28k

Lancashire CCC secretary Dave Edmundson
"He works tremendously hard to keep his fitness"
 real 28k

Monday, 10 July, 2000, 06:49 GMT
Flintoff faces fitness ultimatum
Flintoff could be told to shape up or ship out
Flintoff could be told to shape up or ship out
England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff could be told this week to improve his fitness or face the axe from the national side.

Flintoff withdrew from Sunday's one-day match against the West Indies at late notice with back problems.

It was a recurrence of the back trouble which forced him to withdraw from the second Test triumph over West Indies at Lord's and which has dogged his cricket career.

Press reports suggest chairman of selectors David Graveney is planning to visit Flintoff and hand him a fitness ultimatum.

Undeniable talent

According to The Guardian, a senior ECB official has said "enough is enough" and Graveney will be dispatched to Old Trafford with a clear message to Flintoff to get into shape or lose his central contract.

Critics argue the 17-stone bulk of the 22-year-old is hindering his undeniable talent.

But Lancashire secretary Dave Edmundson has hit back at claims that Flintoff's weight is the root of the problem.

"His injury is not related to weight at all," Edmundson insisted.

"In many ways, his back is better than it has been because he has not been able to bowl much for the previous four years.

It's a major concern that Flintoff's injury comes and goes, at unpredictable times
  Duncan Fletcher

"It is something we believe has been caused as a youngster bowling excessively - something the ECB directives have now been brought in to deal with." Edmundson added Flintoff has worked extremely hard to improve his fitness over the winter, training with ex-Great Britain rugby league star Steve Hampson.

But England coach Duncan Fletcher has admitted Flintoff's fitness is a cause for concern. "It's a major concern that this comes and goes, at unpredictable times.

"Dean is going to put a process in motion to find out what's going on with it, we want to find out from some top specialist what is going on here."

England have not ruled out Flintoff from Thursday's return day/night fixture with Zimbabwe at Old Trafford, but until the specialists discover the source of his problem, he is unlikely to figure, and Dominic Cork may well be called up as a replacement.

His injuries are particularly frustrating for the selectors, who had hoped Flintoff could use the one-day format to finally establish himself on the international stage.

Promising debut

But while England's form and fitness is a cause for concern, a promising debut from Somerset left-hander Marcus Trescothick has raised their spirits after scores of 79 and 49 in his opening two senior international innings.

"He's shown us he's a very good player, they were two very good innings," said Fletcher.

"He's pleased everyone. Some of the players in the side, who have played against him over the years, have said that he can play now.

"What was good was the way he played the short ball well, he stands tall and looks pretty positive.

"He has got a great attitude and is very similar to Michael Vaughan in his composure."

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See also:

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