England won't risk Flintoff

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The Independent Online

Andrew Flintoff's determination to play in next week's Edgbaston Ashes Test and beyond will not be at the jeopardy of the team.

England all-rounder Flintoff, 31, overcame the effects of his right knee injury to claim the man-of-the-match award in the 115-run Lord's victory over Australia last week.

Three injections in the troublesome joint helped him retain his hostility with the ball throughout the contest and his rampaging spell on the final morning sealed the result.

He has been sore in the aftermath, however, and is currently resting up in a bid to make next Thursday's third match of the npower series.

Flintoff conveyed his dedication to getting through the entire campaign before retiring from Test cricket only last week, and says he will play through the pain - but only if he is able to perform at somewhere near his optimum.

"I don't think those sort of decisions take an incredible amount of strength," said coach Andy Flower.

"If guys are fit enough to get through and contribute to winning Test matches then they'll be selected.

"If they're not it's not a tough decision to make, you just don't select him."

This has become Flintoff's farewell series but it added to the piquancy of the occasion at Lord's, where he claimed only his third five-wicket haul in Test cricket.

"We know what a significant contribution his was," Flower reflected.

"I think one of his main contributions to us over the five days was giving the side confidence and belief.

"Certainly with him leading the attack in that last innings, it gave us the belief we'd bowl them out."

England's medical staff will assess Flintoff early next week - the squad gather in Birmingham on Monday evening.

Meanwhile, heavy rain has left the Edgbaston pitch in a poor state.

Groundsman Steve Rouse and his team have battled the elements to no avail and he admitted: "It's a nightmare."

Talking to BBC Sport, he added: "We've had two actual dry days in the last 10 and the wicket is like jelly.

"It has to be ready a day before and I've got no chance of getting it solid, not with the weather coming in."