England Ashes hopes lifted as Flintoff is given all-clear after scan

Myles Hodgson
Friday 15 November 2002 01:00
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Andrew Flintoff's hopes of featuring in the remainder of the Ashes series were boosted yesterday when the England all-rounder was given the all-clear following a scan.

Flintoff was sent for his second MRI scan to determine whether he had sustained soft tissue damage after struggling during a 20-minute bowling spell at the Bellerive Oval here in preparation for the three-day game against Australia A, which was due to begin here last night.

The second scan, an attempt to determine why he is taking so long to overcome the effects of a double hernia operation in August, came back clear. Flintoff has not played since the three-day match against Queensland before the first Test, after which he suffered an adverse reaction.

The England coach, Duncan Fletcher, said: "Andrew had a scan on his groin which was clear and he's available for selection. We'll decide on our final XI [for the Australia A game] in the morning after we've had a look at the pitch."

Flintoff's chances of playing last night hinged on whether he could play through the discomfort he feels when bowling. If he does not feature, he will not be considered for the second Test in Adelaide next week.

Matthew Hoggard faces an anxious week waiting to discover whether he remains a part of England's plans for the second Test after missing out on the Australia A game.

The Yorkshire seamer has been a key part of England's line-up for over a year while Darren Gough has been injured. He has raced to 60 Test wickets in 16 Tests but has struggled in his last three Tests, claiming only two wickets. He looked out of sorts in the first Test at the Gabba when he finished wicketless and conceded 164 runs.

England have elected to have a look at Steve Harmison, Chris Silverwood and Alex Tudor, who face a three-way fight to replace the injured Simon Jones and possibly Hoggard for the second Test.

Fletcher was supportive of Hoggard saying: "If he's getting down about it, he's not showing it. That's what so good about him, he just gets on with it." But Fletcher must be concerned about a player who took 7 for 68 in New Zealand eight months ago to win the first Test, but seems to have lost his sparkle.

Meanwhile, Steve Waugh found that it is not only Nasser Hussain who can mess up winning the toss. Waugh took a leaf out of Hussain's book at the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday when he put South Australia in after winning the toss in New South Wales' Pura Cup match.

The decision looked like being as poor as Hussain's in the first Test when Darren Lehmann (97) and David Fitzgerald (153) put on 191 for the second wicket, a record for South Australia in Sydney.

However, Brett Lee, looking to force his way back into the Australian side for the second Test, bowled Lehmann after he had struck 13 boundaries and went on to take four more wickets, two more bowled, in the final session as South Australia closed on 319 for 5.

AUSTRALIA SQUAD (Second Test v England, Adelaide, 21 November): S R Waugh (capt), M L Hayden, J L Langer, R T Ponting, D R Martyn, D S Lehmann, A C Gilchrist (wkt), S K Warne, A J Bichel, B Lee, J N Gillespie, G D McGrath.

* Loughborough University has been awarded first-class status for the 2003 season. Loughborough, who have won all three of the major university competitions in the last two years, join Oxford, Cambridge and Durham as the fourth English university to gain the recognition.

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