Flintoff's surgery places the focus on ECB medics

Twelve weeks or 12 months? England are desperately hoping that Andrew Flintoff's recovery from surgery on his injured left ankle fits in to the first of these two timescales, because without their most inspirational and formidable player there seems little chance of the team retaining the Ashes this winter.

Yet those who are overseeing this week's operation on Flintoff, and are responsible for his rehabilitation, are aware that an injury like his can take far longer to heal. Glenn McGrath, the Australian fast bowler, was out of action for almost 12 months after having a similar operation on his ankle in 2003 and, for a big man, he is very light on his feet.

Removing the scar tissue created by an operation to displace a bony growth in the early part of 2005 sounds fairly routine but the left ankle is a crucial part of a fast bowler's anatomy. Flintoff sends seven or eight times his bodyweight through the joint with every ball he bowls, stress that is bound to cause pain when there is a defect.

The handling of Flintoff, along with that of Michael Vaughan, Simon Jones and Ashley Giles, who were advised to rest before undergoing surgery, has put the medical set-up at the England and Wales Cricket Board under the spotlight. Specialists are, understandably, cautious about operating straight away, and prefer to give the patient another course of treatment before placing them under general anaesthetic. But, in the last two years, each of these four players has had an operation that has failed to correct their initial problem.

Should Flintoff's rehabilitation go according to schedule, and he is fit to bowl by the middle of October - five weeks before the first Test in Brisbane - England then have to get him playing cricket. Being fit is an issue but regaining the form and match fitness required to take on Australia is another.

Jones, Giles and James Anderson, who still harbour hopes of playing in the Ashes, are in a similar position and, somehow, the ECB will need to get them playing competitive cricket well before the squad travel Down Under on 5 November. "We're investigating areas where they can play cricket," said David Graveney, the chairman of selectors. "South Africa is an option, Australia is another. Maybe the Australians might allow some of our players to play in their state cricket, that would be an interesting development, or is that a bit too mischievous?"

Graveney's desire to get Australian state sides to help England's cause may be a trifle optimistic. States in Australia, unlike those in England, tend not to play overseas cricketers, but there is every chance that a few Grade teams - club sides - will. Grade cricket in Australia is of a very high standard and it would give England's injured players the desired workout.

Deprived of Flintoff, England yesterday named a 14-man squad for Thursday's second Test against Pakistan in Manchester. Andrew Strauss retains the captaincy and will do for the rest of the four-Test series, and Jamie Dalrymple has been called up. The Middlesex off-spinner will only play if the Old Trafford pitch looks like it will spin.

"I thought Jamie Dalrymple did really well in the one-day games [against Sri Lanka] and I've always been impressed with him," Graveney said. "When things aren't going well he gets in there and battles away. He's just starting his career and his selection is to give Duncan [Fletcher] and Andrew enough options when they look at the pitch."

There is likely to be one change to the side that drew with Pakistan at Lord's. Liam Plunkett is in the squad but the side strain he sustained while playing for Durham on Saturday looks set to rule him out. Sajid Mahmood and Jonathan Lewis will compete for the Plunkett's place with the former expected to be given the nod on his home ground.

Ian Bell, a centurion at Lord's, will retain his place and add depth to the batting, but the challenge for England is taking 20 Pakistan wickets. The return of Younis Khan, a player with an average of 48, and the loss of Flintoff will make that much harder.

England squad (Second Test v Pakistan, Old Trafford, Thursday) A J Strauss (capt), M E Trescothick, A N Cook, K P Pietersen, P D Collingwood, I R Bell, G O Jones (wkt), S J Mahmood, M J Hoggard, S J Harmison, M S Panesar, J W M Dalrymple, J Lewis, L E Plunkett.

The problem with Freddie's action

Flintoff's problem is caused by the position in which he places his foot when he bowls, writes Angus Fraser. The left foot of most right-arm bowlers is placed flat on the ground and points down the pitch towards the batsman as the ball is delivered. Yet Flintoff initially lands on his toes with his foot pointing towards fine leg.

He then twists it straight as his right arm comes over to bowl, a movement that places a huge strain on a tendon at the back of the ankle. And it is this motion, rather than the tiny fragments of bone in the joint - the diagnosis incorrectly given by the England and Wales Cricket Board after the Trent Bridge Test against Sri Lanka - that is the root of Flintoff's injury.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice