Bowling workload not to blame for Flintoff injury, says Fletcher

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The Independent Online

Andrew Flintoff has soft tissue damage in his abdomen, but should be fit to play against South Africa on the final day today.

Andrew Flintoff has soft tissue damage in his abdomen, but should be fit to play against South Africa on the final day today.

"It was really a precautionary measure not to bowl him as we might need him for later on in the series," Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, said. "X-rays have been taken and it's nothing more serious than soft tissue damage - just a bruise.

"He has some stiffness in his side and we are going to try to find out some more about it. Like everything, we always have to take 24 hours to make a proper assessment."

Fletcher denied the injury was a result of Flintoff's workload after bowling 49.1 overs during this Test and having delivered 37 in the previous Test at Durban.

"These kind of injuries can come from anything," Fletcher said. "Sometimes it comes from no bowling and sometimes it comes from too much bowling - if we knew how these injuries came about we might be able to stop them.

"He's had quite a lot of bowling, but it's not all in one big spell. He's been bowling around 15 overs a day and this series has been going on for three weeks now, so it's very difficult to say if it's because he's had too much bowling."

Matthew Hoggard is another concern for England. He did not take the field at the beginning of play yesterday, because of a heel injury suffered when he was struck on the foot walking behind the nets. He is due to bat at No 9 today.

South Africa were understandably delighted with their position, particularly after slumping to a seven-wicket defeat at Port Elizabeth a fortnight ago and hanging on for a draw at Durban.

"We've bowled well as a unit and come a long way since St George's Park. I think the boys can be proud of the effort they've put in so far," said Shaun Pollock, who claimed the wickets of Marcus Trescothick and Flintoff.

"We've still got five wickets to get and we will turn up eager to push our advantage home, but we'd be very disappointed as would a lot of people in South Africa if we didn't win.

"We've got the big five out and there's a new ball looming, so things are definitely stacked in our favour - I think we picked up a bit of momentum by hanging on in Durban and I think that was important because to come here 2-0 down would have been a big ask."

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