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Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 16:42 UK

Flintoff 'ready' for South Africa


Flintoff feels he is yet to reach his peak as a batsman

Andrew Flintoff is confident his injury problems are behind him as he prepares for to make his England comeback.

The Lancashire all-rounder, 30, has had four ankle operations, the most recent in October 2007, while a recent side strain hampered his England return.

"If I didn't think I could get back to this, then I wouldn't have had any of the operations," he told BBC Sport.

"Hopefully the ankle is a thing of the past now. The operation was so long ago that I've almost forgotten about it."

Flintoff is hoping to play his first Test for England in 18 months and replaces Chris Tremlett in an otherwise unchanged squad for the second Test against South Africa at Headingly, which begins on Friday.

He is likely to go straight into the team at the expense of the struggling Paul Collingwood or Ryan Sidebottom, who has a back strain, but Flintoff is taking nothing for granted.

"I'm desperate to make that final 11, desperate to get back out on that pitch," he said.

"But the lads have been unchanged for a while now.

"I've come in to the squad and I'm sure there are some tough decisions to be made by the management and selectors.

"I've got my fingers crossed hoping and praying I'll be there on Friday."

Despite fears over his fitness, Flintoff insists he has played enough cricket to be in good enough shape to face the South Africans and believes his game has improved despite his absence.

"I've had so much to deal with and all the hard work I've put in, I'm just pleased to be here in my tracksuit with a chance of playing.

"There's a bit more to my bowling now. I've always been confident that once I'm fit I can land it pretty much where I want to but there's a bit more craft.

"I've got a bit of pace which I can rely on but I've learned how to move the ball a bit more.

"It's almost like a new start as I have not played for so long.

"I've shown I can play the game a few times but I still feel there is a lot more in me. As a bowler I feel I have improved and batsmen typically peak in their early 30's, so hopefully I have that to look forward to."

see also
South Africa in England in 2008
14 Nov 07 |  Cricket
South Africa earn draw at Lord's
14 Jul 08 |  England
Flintoff leads Lancs to victory
14 Jul 08 |  Counties

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