Focus on Flintoff fitness

England are talking a confident game about Andrew Flintoff's fitness for the Edgbaston Test - but that will not preclude a nervous wait before the lynchpin all-rounder takes the field.

England's selectors did the easy bit yesterday when they named Lord's match-winner Flintoff in a squad of 13 for the third npower Ashes Test against Australia, starting on Thursday, alongside the injured Kevin Pietersen's batting replacement Ian Bell.



They also delivered an upbeat bulletin on his current roadworthiness but know only too well they must oversee day-to-day monitoring of the knee injury that will finish Flintoff's Test career at the end of the series.



On England's side in their battle to keep their most lethal weapon fit, as they bid to regain the Ashes from the advantageous position of being 1-0 up with three to play, is Flintoff's big heart and still bigger motivation to go out on an all-time high.



"We'll monitor him and see how we go," national selector Geoff Miller confirmed to BBC Radio 5 Live.



"Obviously he's got the problem - that's why he made his decision about Test cricket. But I'm sure it'll take wild dogs to keep him off the Test arena for these three matches."



Flintoff's knee needed surgery after a short and controversial stint at the Indian Premier League, and it has since been reported Pietersen, too, aggravated his Achilles problem taking part in the lucrative Twenty20 franchise tournament.



Miller acknowledges there is a need to ensure IPL contracts do not have a detrimental effect on the fitness of centrally-contracted players - but he appears wary, too, of allowing unwanted diversions to intrude on England's so far successful Ashes campaign.



"It wasn't just the IPL which created this injury (to Pietersen) - and it certainly wasn't on Fred as well," Miller insisted.



"That could have happened at any time. It was coincidental."



While Flintoff's well-being is paramount for England for the remainder of the summer - especially with Pietersen's mercurial talents out of the equation - vindication for the faith they have shown in Bell would not go amiss either.



"He was brought in to cover in the first two Test matches, so naturally he comes in as a batsman," Miller said of the 27-year-old, who has not played a Test since being dropped after England's defeat in Jamaica more than five months ago.



"Yes, we talked about other players; we continually talk about other players to widen our squad to give us some extra backing or strength in the squad in all areas. On this occasion, Ian was the right choice."



Steve Harmison, retained in the squad as obvious pace-bowling cover for Flintoff but perhaps in with a chance in his own right depending on conditions in Birmingham, is another who has not always found recent favour in Andy Flower's England.



"He's up there if the opportunity arises, and we'll see what the surface is like," Miller told Sky Sports News.



"If it's conducive to Steve, then he might get the shout - but we'll wait and see on the morning of the match to make that decision."



Suggested Topics
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of Jane Austen classic - with a twist

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week