As long as he is fit, Flintoff will play in the first Ashes Test at Cardiff on 8th July. England cannot afford to demand that he proves his form. Some might point out the Test team’s success in his absence compared to his presence, but the Twenty20 defeat by South Africa, albeit in a different format, should remind the selectors of Flintoff’s importance.
The big all-rounder is a talisman, a player who inspires his teams-mates and intimidates the opposition. Kevin Pietersen has the same effect and the implications of over-reliance on the former skipper are becoming clear in the current tournament.
However, if the selectors do pick the team for Cardiff on form only, Flintoff at least has the opportunity to prove himself. Although his bowling effectiveness is never questioned, he has already proved this part of his game to be in good order, taking two cheap wickets in the first game of Lancashire’s match at Durham.
Flintoff will have the opportunity to gain more match practice in another championship match against Hampshire, the latter stages of the Twenty20 cup and, if required, in England’s Ashes warm-up match against the Bears.England fans must hope that he finds some batting form in those matches, but the most important thing is that he does not have any injury setbacks. England could do with Flintoff in their Twenty20 team; they certainly need him in the Test line-up.
Written by Philip Oliver