The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Andrew Flintoff brushes aside fitness critics

London: England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff insisted in a press report here on Wednesday that he had done “everything asked of me” in a bid to regain match fitness and play an active part in the ongoing tour of Australia.

Flintoff, who will turn 25 on Friday, has spent the first three Tests, apart from occasional spells as a substitute fielder, watching from the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Australia have retained the Ashes for an eighth successive time with a crushing 3-0 lead in the five-match campaign.

The England selectors’ decision to pick Flintoff, who had a double hernia operation in August, has been severely criticised and so too has the medical advice upon which they acted. But Flintoff too has taken plenty of flak, with reports from within the England camp indicating that he has not stuck to his training regime.

However, the only member of the England hierarchy to publicly question the Lancashire star’s discipline is outgoing England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Ian MacLaurin.

“I think he was doing things during his recuperation that he probably shouldn’t have,” MacLaurin, who steps down in January, said of Flintoff recently.

But Flintoff, whose ability to keep his six foot four inch frame in shape has been criticised in the past, insisted he had not shirked any part of his fitness programme.

“I’ve done everything that has been asked of me, yet the injury is taking longer to heal than anybody thought,” he told Wednesday’s edition of The Sun. “It is very frustrating.”

But Flintoff said he would not let the injury or his critics deflect from his aim of making a full recovery. “There are a lot of comments flying around at the moment. But my aim is just to get fit and be able to play at 100 per cent again.”

England had hoped that Flintoff’s lively medium-pace bowling and aggressive middle-order batting would be an advantage on Australian pitches, which are generally bouncier than their home surfaces.

Flintoff’s next comeback target is England’s opening match of the triangular one-day series, also featuring Sri Lanka, against Australia on December 13 in Sydney.

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