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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2007, 08:59 GMT
Harmison queries Flintoff sacking
Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff
Harmison says England over-reacted to Flintoff's escapades
England's decision to strip Andrew Flintoff of the vice-captaincy following a late night drinking spree could backfire, Steve Harmison says.

The fast bowler said: "If [captain] Michael Vaughan gets injured, it's an even bigger blow.

"Andrew Strauss would come in but he has got a lot more on his mind than captaining England because he has to try to cement his place in the team."

Harmison also denied Flintoff, a close friend, had a drinking problem.

Talking in an interview with the Guardian, Harmison said: "I think it's nonsense. The drinking is done at the right time - apart from Friday.

"Andrew Flintoff has not got any sort of problem. There's nothing wrong with him."

It will make them stronger as a team because this whole episode will make Andrew stronger

Steve Harmison
Harmison said he thought the drinking incident involving Flintoff had been "blown out of proportion".

The 29-year-old was reprimanded after he fell off a pedalo and got into difficulties in the water early on Saturday morning following the drinking session in a St Lucia nightclub. He was also dropped for Sunday's game against Canada.

"They had to do something, but I thought maybe that's going a little too far," said Harmison, who has been in touch with Flintoff by text message this week.

"After the coverage they got, [coach] Duncan Fletcher and the management had to stand strong - but I think it was blown out of all proportion."

Harmison, who quit one-day international cricket in December, said Paul Collingwood, another candidate to assume the captaincy in Vaughan's absence, "would do a good job, and I know he would jump at the chance.

606: DEBATE

"But I would hate to see his game suffer and I wouldn't like to see him do a job that puts more pressure on him than his role in the side."

In interviews to promote a new book on the Ashes series, Harmison also said he felt the incident would prove a benefit in disguise for Flintoff.

"It will make them stronger as a team because this whole episode will make Andrew stronger," he said.

"I think they have an even better chance now of winning the World Cup because the squad will be galvanised by what has happened.

"All they need is a bit of luck now. We proved in the one-day series in Australia that we get better as we go along."



SEE ALSO
Injury scare for England captain
20 Mar 07 |  England
England - Players to watch
14 Feb 07 |  England
World Cup form guide - England
21 Feb 07 |  Cricket
England World Cup squad
15 Feb 07 |  England
BBC World Cup coverage
21 Feb 07 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2007 schedule
20 Jul 05 |  Cricket


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