Only one man to captain England, says Graveney

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The Independent Online

David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, has defended the decision to appoint Andrew Flintoff as England's captain in the absence of the injured Michael Vaughan. Flintoff captained England in this morning's day/night match against Australia in Brisbane and is likely to lead the side for at least another week while Vaughan recovers from a grade one tear of his left hamstring.

There are many who feel that England would be better served if Andrew Strauss was given the captaincy, a move that would allow Flintoff to concentrate solely on his cricket. It is a view that was given even greater credence after Flintoff's superb all-round display against New Zealand on Tuesday, when he took 2 for 37 and scored an unbeaten 72 in England's first victory of the tour. But Graveney still believes he has the wherewithal to lead the side.

"It is the view of the selectors that, in the absence of Michael Vaughan, they would like Andrew Flintoff to captain the side," Graveney said. "He was the first man we turned to when the result of Michael's injury became known.

"I am aware that many people will question the decision after what took place during the Ashes but had Michael been unavailable for the whole of the Australian tour Andrew would have been appointed for both the Test and one-day series. He would have been the captain of England for the entire tour, and I have no evidence of an England captain being sacked halfway through a tour.

"I know there are concerns about Andrew's workload and the fact that he did not perform to his full capabilities during the Ashes. But this is the way the selectors wanted to go. We talked about the workload placed on Freddie, but we are comfortable with it and so is he."

While Flintoff deliberated over the offer to captain the team again, there were suggestions that members of the England management spent part of Wednesday trying to chivvy him into turning the job down. The reports were denied by Graveney.

"There is no question of anyone trying to twist his arm so that he made way for Andrew Strauss," he said. "When Michael Vaughan was reinstated as England captain after the Ashes Freddie came and told me that he still held captaincy aspirations. He made it clear that he still held the ambition to be England captain."

* The England and Wales and Cricket and Board panel who will conduct the inquest on England's Ashes defeat are: Ken Schofield (chairman), Nasser Hussain, Nick Knight, Angus Fraser, Hugh Morris, Mickey Stewart and Brian Rose.

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