War of the Red Roses as Flintoff hits Athers with verbal bouncer

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The Independent Online

You would have thought that as two Lancashire legends they could be the best of buddies, but there is clearly no love lost between Andrew Flintoff and Michael Atherton.

Speaking at a party in London for Sky TV, for whom Atherton works as a commentator, Flintoff laid into his fellow former England captain. "He's a fucking prick. He sits there making judgements about players that are much better than he ever was.

"How can he talk about a player like Alastair Cook who is 10 times the player he ever was? He has a much bigger average and will go on and on. Atherton averaged in the 30s for England and yet he thinks he can judge others."

Both Flintoff and Atherton always relished Ashes battles, and the Australia one-day team started their tour against Leicestershire yesterday. Hard-hitting opener David Warner smacked 74 as the tourists declared on 241 for 8 at Grace Road. They then ripped through the hosts, reducing them to 121 for 7, with Clint McKay taking three wickets.

Meanwhile, former Pakistan captain Salman Butt, jailed in November for 30 months for spot-fixing in the UK, has been released from prison early.

Butt, 27, was released from Canterbury Prison in Kent on Wednesday night. He was jailed with Mohammad Asif, 29, and Mohammad Amir, 19, for the bowling of deliberate no balls in a 2010 Test against England.

All three were also given five-year playing bans, which they are appealing.