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Page last updated at 18:19 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 19:19 UK

Flintoff returns to England squad

Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff has struggled with the bat since returning to fitness

Andrew Flintoff has been recalled to the England squad for the second Test against South Africa, which starts at Headingley on Friday.

The all-rounder has not played a Test since the final Ashes match in Sydney in January 2007 because of injury.

The 30-year-old underwent ankle surgery in October 2007 and returned to fitness before a recent side strain hampered his comeback to the international fold. Flintoff takes Chris Tremlett's place in an otherwise unchanged squad.

He could replace the struggling Paul Collingwood in the starting line-up or come in for bowler Ryan Sidebottom, who could be a doubt for the Test due to a stiff back.

Flintoff scored the winning runs for Lancashire against Hampshire on Monday and his qualities with the bat and ball certainly give England more options and a selection dilemma.

"When we get to Leeds and I assess the wicket with team coach Peter Moores then we'll be able to give a whereabouts of what the 11 will be," said England captain Michael Vaughan.


"There are plenty of options now with Freddie coming back in and will potentially create five bowlers or we could play him in a four-man attack. That's the big question that we will be asked all week."

England drew the first Test with South Africa and lacked the firepower to bowl the tourists out for a second time after building a commanding first innings lead of 346, although they were not helped by a placid pitch.

Flintoff is renowned for his pace and accuracy and has shown fine form with the ball since returning to first-class action with Lancashire.

His progress was interrupted by a side strain but he says he is fully-fit as his batting, which has so far been unconvincing, also improves with more matches.

"It's nice to get through your first few balls and then start hitting a few in the middle of the bat," he said after his 39 not out eased his side to victory over Hampshire.

"I'm a confident batsman. I've been seeing the ball well all season but my body and hands aren't going in the right places.

"But it seems to be getting there and I'm a lot happier about my batting now than I was six weeks ago.

I've been seeing the ball well all season but my body and hands aren't going in the right places

Andrew Flintoff

"The bowling is fine. I put it in my hand, run up and let go. I've got a pretty good idea of where I am putting it.

"I think there is a bit more craft to my bowling now compared to a few years ago.

"We played at Sussex on a placid pitch and I was able to swing the ball and I've always got a bit of pace to rely on if that's not happening.

"I feel I'm improving and touch wood the body is going to stay fit. I'm not getting anything but the stiffness everybody else gets."

Lancashire team-mate Dominic Cork reckons Flintoff will play in the second Test.

"I was surprised he didn't get picked for the first one," Cork told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"He's the best all-rounder in England. It's so much different when you see Flintoff striding out - I think he'll play."

If Flintoff does start at Headingley it will break a record run of England keeping the same 11 for the past six Test matches.

"The key for Freddie was to try to make sure he had had enough cricket," said coach Moores.

"We know he has bowled a certain amount of overs now and been on the field for a certain amount of time.

"I think it is the right decision to put him in the squad and we can have a look at him. It's exciting times for English cricket to get a fit Freddie Flintoff back."

England squad for 2nd npower Test v South Africa:
Michael Vaughan (Yorkshire, capt), Tim Ambrose (Warwickshire, wkt), James Anderson (Lancashire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Paul Collingwood (Durham), Alastair Cook (Essex), Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire), Monty Panesar (Northamptonshire), Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire), Ryan Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire), Andrew Strauss (Middlesex).

see also
South Africa earn draw at Lord's
14 Jul 08 |  England
Flintoff leads Lancs to victory
14 Jul 08 |  Counties
Sutton hails Flintoff performance
03 Jul 08 |  Lancashire
Flintoff fifty seals Lancs win
02 Jul 08 |  Counties
South Africa in England in 2008
14 Nov 07 |  Cricket

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