Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 4th day December 4, 2006

Fletcher calms Flintoff injury concern

Andrew Flintoff spent plenty of time in the dressing room having treatment on his ankle © Getty Images
Duncan Fletcher has allayed fears about the fitness of England's captain, Andrew Flintoff, who bowled just four overs on the fourth morning at Adelaide before playing no further role in England's attack. Flintoff was off the field when Australia were finally bowled out for 513 shortly after tea, but Fletcher insisted the break from action was purely precautionary.

"He felt a slight discomfort and he just wanted to make sure everything was alright," Fletcher told reporters afterwards. "He came off and we just felt more comfortable with the other bowlers bowling. Basically he's making steady progress. He's played back-to-back Tests and he's done quite a bit of bowling in that time, but we've got no worries at the moment."

Flintoff's fitness is absolutely pivotal to England's Ashes chances, but Fletcher insisted that the problem was simply a side-effect of his long injury lay-off. He underwent further surgery on his troublesome left ankle in June, and returned to action in India in September for the ICC Champions Trophy. Unless a surprise is in store tomorrow, he will not have to bowl again competitively until the third Test starts at Perth on Thursday week.

"It's a light discomfort, but the medical staff are confident at the moment and say it's just from having been off and coming back from injury. We are just going to have to wait and see what he's like after couple of days, but we're not even going to send him for a scan at this stage. He just feels he's been overbowled in back-to-back Tests."

An injury to Flintoff would be considerably more damaging to England than any concerns that Glenn McGrath's ankle has been causing to Australia, but Fletcher insisted that Flintoff would have been fit to bowl had he been required today. "We discussed it and he could have taken the new ball. In fact, it would have been him and Steve Harmison."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo