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The VB Series - England Must Start to Perform

Freddie Fighting for Fitness

The only way is up for Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff now after proving he is fit and ready to launch his considerable talent into world cricket’s one-day arena again.

How England need my former Lancashire colleague’s presence in their one-day side if they are to entertain any chance of lifting the upcoming World Cup in South Africa.
His return to Australia may just save our country

from further embarrassment in the VB Series against Australia and Sri Lanka.
Nobody has been more disappointed and frustrated at his slow recovery from a double hernia operation last summer than Freddie himself. But nobody could have worked harder at getting his body into peak condition again.

Flintoffs Recovery
Freddie has been working four to five hours a day one-to-one to get his body back into shape and his work in the nets has been increasing over the last month. So much so that the ECB’s chief medical officer was very impressed with his conditioning when he supervised a fitness test earlier this week.
It looks like Freddie will get some action with the Academy side at least if England fail to qualify for the finals of the VB Series. He can not wait for the chance to do what he does best getting the ball to fizz at the world’s best batsman and dispatching the deliveries of the game’s greatest bowlers to all corners of the pitch and grandstands.

The Importance of Vaughan to the England Team
Freddie’s ISM colleague Michael Vaughan could also help England’s cause again after benefiting from 10-days rest following his player-of-the-series heroics during the Test series.

Michael is another England must-have for South Africa because our one-day batting after the opening pair has been anything but consistent. The Yorkshireman’s injured shoulder and knee have recovered sufficiently, but his return may have come too late to prevent further one-day disappointment.

Friday's Wicket
The Adelaide pitch for Friday’s game will suit Sri Lanka more than the fast, bouncy tracks they suffered on in Perth and Brisbane.
Michael’s presence in the batting order would give a considerable boost to any side and England have never wanted it more than now as they bid to recover from a couple of red-faced defeats.

Keeping Discipline
Our discipline in all three departments has let us down. The number of extras conceded means we have been virtually playing against 12 men every game. Between 20 and 30 is far too many. It makes an enormous difference to a batsman’s psyche when he goes out to chase a 250 target rather than 275.

There can be no criticism of our opening pair, but batsmen who score 70 or 80 must somehow ensure that they turn those totals into a ton plus to ease the pressure later. England have so far been let down chasing when the pressure is at its greatest so somebody has to stick their hand up and say: ‘I am the man for the job’.

The hardest part of one-day cricket is closing a game out and England have not had anybody consistently capable of assuming that role. Unfortunately we have been making the same mistakes over and over.

I believe Steve Harmison has a big part to play in England’s Test future, but I am not as convinced about his one-day contributions. Unfortunately he does not bowl straight enough in the shortened game to produce the required economy.

At the moment, England have not batted, bowled or fielded well enough to send out an early World Cup message. The return of Flintoff and Vaughan may just change that.
Let’s hope so.

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