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Thread: Fit Flintoff desperate for the Ashes

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    Default Fit Flintoff desperate for the Ashes





    Flintof last Ashes experience was the lowest point of his career, but he insists memories of those dark days in Australia have long since been banished as he prepares for another crack at the urn. The pain of the 5-0 whitewash during 2006-07 was in stark contrast to the heady highs of victory in 2005, but as the 2009 campaign draws closer Flintoff wants to start afresh.

    He is desperate to make the most of the next two months of Ashes action after winning his latest fitness battle following knee surgery. For a while it looked as though it would be a close race to be fit, but he has had three weeks with Lancashire and is now looking forward to facing Australia again, eager to grab every opportunity that comes his way.

    "The last Ashes was the low point of my career. Probably the last series emotionally was the stronger of the two," he said. "But all that is behind us. We have got a very new team and, rather than dining out on 2005 or dwelling on 2006-2007, it is all about what happens over the next six weeks. It is the biggest thing for an Englishman to play in. I don't need any extra incentive. I just want to perform."

    "As for any mental scars, I wouldn't say there are a great deal there. There are a lot of things that have happened in my life since then. I am just looking forward to playing. The one thing for me is when you play, have confidence, but more importantly enjoying it. Going into this series, I am going to enjoy playing."

    The timing of Flintoff's injury early in the IPL caused plenty of controversy with an Ashes summer looming, but the allrounder is grateful it happened when it did. "It was a degenerative problem. It was untimely that it came up in the IPL, but I'm glad it did otherwise I'd have been struggling for this series."

    It's the motivation of getting back to the peak of his powers as he showed in 2005 that has helped Flintoff through his seemingly endless rehabilitation programmes. Often it has been his ankle - which has required four operations - but the latest injury to his knee was a new one to add to the catalogue. And each time Flintoff has been laid low it has reminded him of what he was missing.

    "From my point of view, through all the injuries I had, if I didn't think I could come back and play the cricket I played in the past or be better, I don't think I would have done it. I've worked hard to get here.

    "You miss England more as you get older. When you have missed as much cricket as me of course you do," he added. "It's been taken away from me at various points in my career and it's about making the most of it every chance you get. I'm not far away from that now but, as you get older, you don't want to miss much cricket because you don't know how much you've got in you."

    Flintoff's form in his comeback games for Lancashire has been promising as wickets were followed by some welcome runs. His bowling always takes care of itself, so it was the time in the middle - with a half-century in the Championship and a blistering 93 off 41 balls at Derby in the Twenty20 Cup - which will be most heartening.

    The 93 was Flintoff's highest innings in an official match since his 102 at Trent Bridge during the 2005 Ashes and he has decided to go back to a method of batting that works for him. "The way I've played over the last few weeks I'm confident of scoring runs," he said. "A few years ago I tried to get better as a batsman which I thought meant technically better and playing perfect shots which I'll never do. Instead I've gone back to the method I trust and playing aggressively."

    Still, he is still facing a demotion in the order with No. 7 his likely spot when the series starts. It's where he began his Test career and where he has always looked best suited despite his golden 18-month period from 2004 to 2005 when he contributed the runs of a specialist batsman.

    "I've had success at No. 6, but Matt Prior has come in averaging 40 so I'm probably looking at No. 7. It would have bothered me a few years ago but now I'm just glad to be playing, whatever spot I get."
    Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo
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    flintoff needs to be firing to get the Ashes for England



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