Flintoff confident of starting season

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The Independent Online

The England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is confident of being fit for the start of the season after leaving the tour of South Africa to undergo surgery.

The England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is confident of being fit for the start of the season after leaving the tour of South Africa to undergo surgery.

Flintoff played a key role in England's Test series victory in South Africa but has flown home for an operation on his ankle.

The 27-year-old has been troubled by a bone spur for some time and England felt it was best to sacrifice his involvement in the seven-match one-day series to be fit for the Ashes in the summer.

Flintoff said: "I had an injection last week to get me through the Test match but I've got time now to get it done. I've got a few weeks to get fit for the start of the season. I've had a few injections over my career, but this is a different sort of injury."

Flintoff suffered with the problem last summer and admits his heavy bowling workload may have exacerbated it in South Africa. "The workload has played a part but lots of bowlers have had this done.

"It is just a case of getting this window of opportunity. It has come to the point where I need to get it done and there was no other time."

The Pakistan team manager Haroon Rasheed has been sacked just a month before their tour of India. The Pakistan Cricket Board acted to ensure the tour passes off smoothly given the delicate relationship between the neighbouring countries.

The PCB chairman, Shaharyar Khan, said: "Due to the sensitivities attached with the Indian tour it has been decided to appoint a manager who can handle things on the diplomatic front. It has still not been decided who. But the president has given his approval. We will also appoint an assistant manager for the Indian tour. I don't want to go into the details of whether Haroon did a good job or not but we are taking our decisions based on the requirements of the Indian tour."

The second fund-raising cricket match for tsunami victims set for Calcutta on 13 February has been postponed until the second half of April.

The International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed said in a statement yesterday: "On reviewing the proposed date of 13 February it became apparent there were serious workload issues for many of the players who have indicated a desire to play.

"England will still be in South Africa and Australia's series against New Zealand will be about to begin. There is never an easy time to fit in an additional match but this fund-raising initiative is very important to us all.

"With the support and willing co-operation of the Asian Cricket Council we have decided to postpone the match until the second half of April when there is less scheduled international cricket."

The sport acted quickly after the disaster on 26 December, arranging a match between an Asian XI and a World team in Melbourne on 10 January.

That game helped raise more than $11m for survivors of the tragedy which has claimed almost 300,000 lives.

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