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Cricket World Cup: Andrew Flintoff warning for England


Flintoff concern over England line-up ahead of World Cup

Ex-captain Andrew Flintoff has told BBC Sport that England need to settle on their ideal team as soon as possible to maximise their 2011 World Cup chances.

"We need to find our best team as fast as we can and play it," Flintoff said.

"Out of the three World Cups I played in, four weeks before we never quite knew our best XI. It's a bit concerning to see England in the same boat."

However, he added: "I don't think they'll be favourites by any stretch, but England do have a definite chance."

The 33-year-old, who retired from all forms of cricket in September 2010, called for a change in England's batting line-up before the tournament, which takes place in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from 19 February to 2 April.

They're 3-0 down but they can still win the series. It's a bit of a mountain to climb but they can do it

Andrew Flintoff

"They've recalled Matt Prior at the top of the order - personally I'd put Ian Bell up there, I think he's our best player at the moment," the former all-rounder told BBC Sport.

Flintoff captained England in 11 Tests and 14 one-day internationals.

With regular skipper Michael Vaughan injured, the talismanic all-rounder led England to a 5-0 Ashes defeat by Australia in 2006-07 - although they won the subsequent one-day tri-series involving Australia and New Zealand.

But Flintoff is concerned that some of the players may be suffering from burn-out - and believes the likes of Paul Collingwood need time away from the game to rediscover their form and fitness.

"Sometimes you can try too hard," Flintoff explained.

"When it's not happening, you practice and you work so hard and you're thinking about it, you're dissecting your technique and you're thinking about what's going on.

"I found from time to time, just to get away from it, go and play with the kids or play golf, do whatever you do.

"Just have a break. It's amazing when you come back, everything you thought was going wrong just disappears."


After retaining the Ashes down under this winter, England have struggled against Australia in the ongoing one-day international series.

England trail their hosts 3-0 in the seven match series but their former skipper has not written off their chances of turning things around down under.

"It was going to be hard. After all the emotion and euphoria of winning and then going into a one-day series afterwards," Flintoff commented.

"I'm sure they're doing their best and wanting to win but I think inevitably there's an Ashes hangover to some degree.

"They're 3-0 down but they can still win the series. It's a bit of a mountain to climb but they can do it."

However, the former Lancashire player dismissed suggestions England had played too much cricket this winter as they head into the World Cup.

"I don't think they'll be overcooked," Flintoff stated.

"It is going to be tough with the schedule they've had. However, I think being in a World Cup is just going to lift them again.

"We saw in the World Twenty20 that they're a fine side and they can rise to the big tournaments."

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see also
Injured Swann out of ODI series
25 Jan 11 |  England
Trott ton sets up England victory
26 Jan 11 |  England
Injury forces Bresnan to fly home
23 Jan 11 |  England
Prior in England World Cup squad
19 Jan 11 |  England
Ashes hero Flintoff quits playing
16 Sep 10 |  England
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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