'Flintoff must play, or England will lose Ashes,' warns Warne

'Best bowler in world at the moment' can lift team to new level against Australia

Shane Warne, a man who knows a thing or two about how to win – and lose – the Ashes, yesterday warned England that they will not regain the little urn unless Andrew Flintoff is 100 per cent fit for the summer. Given that Flintoff is sitting out the fourth Test against the West Indies in Barbados due to a muscle tear in his hip, which is the latest in a long line of injuries the talismanic all-rounder has suffered, it is by no means guaranteed.

"Andy Flintoff is the key to England winning the Ashes," Warne, a new commentator for Sky Sports, said. "Not so much his batting but his bowling. He is the best bowler in the world right now. He drags his team along, with his personality, he is inspirational.

"If Flintoff's not playing Australia will win the Ashes. If Fred plays they are even sides but without Fred Australia are slightly ahead as England will then rely too much on too few players," added Warne, who played in eight Ashes series and saw first hand Flintoff's influence in England's golden summer of 2005. "Fred is also awful for left-handers to face and Australia will have four or five in their top six," Warne added.

It raises the nagging question of whether the oh-so-important Flintoff should risk his fragile body by heading off to earn vast riches in the Indian Premier League for three weeks prior to England's packed summer. "Yeah, but $1.5m pro rata for six weeks work," the Australian said. "Who would turn it down? It is very hard for the player not to go. But the Ashes is the biggest prize in world cricket and England need Flintoff fit and firing. I would always say your country is No 1 and I would guess that Fred will not play in the IPL... but you can't begrudge him if he does.

"Look, what it really needs is the ICC [International Cricket Council] to use common sense, a word they don't seem to have in their book, and clear April out so there is no international cricket – the IPL should be a month – with a week's break either side. The IPL is a great advert for cricket."

Warne dismissed the statistics that point to England being more successful of late without Flintoff. "It's a rubbish stat," the former leg-spinner said. "Do you want him in your side or not? Ask any England fan and the answer will be yes."

Warne said his country's poor performances of late were understandable given the high turnover in personnel. "Australia got themselves in positions to win in the recent series [they lost to South Africa] but they were outplayed. It was inexperience. Not knowing how to win cost them. For England just to try and win something would be good. Since 2005 they've had no victories to speak of in any form of the game. Both sides will lift their game for the Ashes but they need some form."

Warne also criticised England's efforts and Andrew Strauss' captaincy so far in the West Indies but praised Michael Vaughan. "England were all out for 50 in the first Test, it's obviously not where they want to be and they batted far too long [in the Antigua Test] and were too conservative with their declaration. They are lacking confidence.

"But Strauss has a good head on his shoulders. You've got to give him a chance to grow into the captaincy. Give him 12 months. Michael Vaughan is the best captain I have played against in an Ashes, easily. He understood the game and had respect from his team. Plus, he put in the performances. He should still be England's No 3 batsman."

Shane Warne will commentate for Sky Sports during its exclusively live and high definition Ashes coverage this summer

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

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map