Adam Hollioake has hailed Andrew Flintoff as "arguably the best cricketer in the world" and knows the England all-rounder represents the biggest threat to his hopes of leading Surrey to Twenty20 Cup glory on finals day at Edgbaston today.
The former England one-day captain insists it "is totally fair" to compare Flintoff with the legendary Ian Botham.
Hollioake is quitting the game at the end of the season and wants to pick up one last honour by helping Surrey retain the trophy in front of a full-house.
But the England and Wales Cricket Board decision to allow Flintoff to play for Lancashire in the semi-final will mean Surrey's unbeaten record in the quickfire format of the game being given a severe examination.
Only last weekend Flintoff scored a superb 167 on the same ground in England's crushing second Test triumph over the West Indies.
Hollioake said: "Flintoff is the best cricketer in England and arguably the best cricketer in the world. If you are looking at all aspects of the game, then he's the main man. In some ways he is better than Ian Botham. In other ways he will never be Ian Botham. But he is certainly such an influential player."
Hollioake had another cortisone injection on Friday in his troublesome ankle to enable him to be sufficiently fit to face Lancashire.
The Leicestershire vice-captain, Darren Maddy, believes "the side which holds their nerve" will triumph in the other semi-final against Glamorgan.
Maddy claims his side are better balanced than when they reached the semi-finals in 2003. He will be looking to continue his own fine form which has seen him established as the competition's leading run-getter with 262 runs.
Maddy said: "The four teams in the semi-final are stronger than last year. Anyone of them is capable of winning the trophy. It is a matter of whoever holds their nerve and plays the best cricket on the day."
Glamorgan are chasing a limited-overs double as they are currently favourites to win the League First Division one-day title. Their spinner Robert Croft said: "We've manoeuvred ourselves into a position where we could possibly do the double but we are taking each competition as it comes.
"It is a tough ask but we are just concentrating on how we play and the rest takes care of itself. We are not concerned about the winning or losing side of it. We just need a good performance and if we do that the winning and losing looks after itself."
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