England hold breath as Flintoff takes ball

After 146 days, an ankle operation, lots of early morning running up Lancashire moors and a series of severe training stints in Indian nets, the England captain, Andrew Flintoff, will again bowl in a match today.

Nobody should imagine that the four or five overs he is likely to produce at the Sardar Patel stadium are aimed at beating the West Indies in the Champions Trophy. That is a side issue and if it is not the least significant one-day international that England have ever played, it is probably in the top five. Fred is testing the troublesome joint on his left foot as part of Project Gabba - the plan to be fit for the first Test of the Ashes against Australia in Brisbane on 23 November, and England's chairman of selectors, David Graveney, was sufficiently encouraged by the news of Flintoff's return to talk up England's Ashes hopes.

"Certainly we can win the Ashes," he said. "I think it will be very close. We're going to have to play very well - and certainly better than in the last couple of games."

It was always intended that on this day Freddie would resume bowling and yesterday at a press conference, which was otherwise concerned with counting the number of times the word proud was used, he confirmed it. "I've bowled in the nets for the past two weeks or so - the ankle has responded well to everything," he said. "I've just done another 20 minutes and provided I don't react to anything there's a chance I'll have a go."

When he does so English hearts will be in mouths. It is essential that Flintoff's ankle bears the load of bowling over the next 10 weeks. Without Fred the all-rounder, the Ashes will not be coming home.

Flintoff will be told to take it easy. Asked if he would bowl all his 10 overs should he manage a blistering opening burst he was adamant: "No way."

That begged the question: what would have happened had England's qualification for the semi-finals depended this match? Would Flintoff have bowled all 10 then? The answer is still in the negative. For all the talk about the Champions Trophy being important - and it is not unimportant - it is the Ashes that matter.

England (from): A Flintoff (capt), A J Strauss, I R Bell, K P Pietersen, M H Yardy, P D Collingwood, J W M Dalrymple, C M W Read (wkt), S I Mahmood, S J Harmison, J M Anderson, J Lewis, R Clarke, E C Joyce.

West Indies (from): B C Lara (capt), C H Gayle, S Chanderpaul, R R Sarwan, D J Bravo, R S Morton, M N Samuels, D R Smith, C S Baugh (wkt), I D R Bradshaw, J E Taylor, C D Collymore, F H Edwards, W W Hinds.

Umpires: S J A Taufel & D J Harper (both Australia).

News
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Homer’s equation, in an episode in 1998, comes close to the truth, as revealed 14 years later
science
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003