England chase clean sweep of summer's series

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The Independent Online

England can pay tribute to their most formidable one-day cricketer of recent vintage today by demonstrating how far they have moved on without him. There is no doubt that Andrew Flintoff, who announced his enforced retirement yesterday, was a colossus but it is equally true that for most of his career, England were found wanting in the limited-overs game.

Those days appear to have been consigned to history since Flintoff's final one-day international in April last year. The side, under Andrew Strauss's charge, have moved to second in the world ODI rankings.

Should they beat Pakistan at The Oval today in the third match of the NatWest Series, England will have the distinction of winning all six series in which they have played this summer: a mixture of Tests, one-dayers and Twenty20s against Bangladesh, Australia and Bangladesh. Strauss could hardly have asked for anything more.

The last part of the season has been overshadowed by the match-fixing scandal involving Pakistan and more surprisingly by the riveting climax to the County Championship. The one-day cricket has become a mere sideshow. Or it had until Pakistan shook themselves from their torpor at Headingley last Sunday and pushed England most of the way. That may well have been as well as good it gets for them. This tour has not been particularly long but it has been intensive with six Test matches in seven weeks and five one-dayers to finish off.

Pakistan must be desperate to remove themselves from the glare, not of playing, but of the suspicion and innuendo that now accompanies it. There are two more matches after today. If England go 3-0 up, they will be two too many.

England (possible): AJ Strauss (capt), SM Davies (wkt), IJL Trott, PD Collingwood, EJG Morgan, RS Bopara, TT Bresnan, MH Yardy, SCJ Broad, GP Swann, JM Anderson.

Pakistan (possible): Shahid Afridi (capt), Kamran Akmal (wkt), Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Yousuf, Asad Shafiq, Abdul Raaaq, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar.

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