CB Series, 2006-07 February 7, 2007

Flintoff 'happier in the ranks'

Cricinfo staff

Andrew Flintoff: an inspired bowling spell turned the game at the Gabba © Getty Images
England's coach, Duncan Fletcher, believes that Andrew Flintoff is a transformed character now that the burden of captaincy has been lifted from his shoulders.

With Michael Vaughan restored to the team, Flintoff produced a brilliant, match-changing spell of bowling during England's thrilling victory over New Zealand at Brisbane on Tuesday, and Fletcher admitted that his key allrounder seemed much happier to be back in the ranks.

"We feel when he's not captain he feels a little bit freer, his bowling is a lot more confident and there's a weight off his shoulders," said Fletcher. "He seems a lot more relaxed. Anyone who's not captain of the side would be a little bit more relaxed. I don't think there's a captain who goes in there and feels very relaxed when he's leading his country."

All the same, Vaughan has been struggling with a hamstring injury during the triangular one-day series and is doubtful for the first of the best-of-three finals at Melbourne on Sunday. "He's captaining England successfully and is a very important factor for us," said Fletcher. "You always worry with Michael because that experience is immense."