South Africa v England, 3rd Test, Cape Town January 6, 2005

Flintoff could still play in fourth Test

Cricinfo staff
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Andrew Flintoff could be OK to play in the fourth Test © Getty Images

Andrew Flintoff should be fit for the fourth Test after scans revealed a muscle injury was less serious than initially feared. It was thought that he may have damaged an intercostal muscle - an injury which usually requires between four and six weeks' rest - after straining his side on Wednesday.

He has, in fact, suffered a minor tear to an internal oblique muscle, and the England camp are confident he will be able to bowl in the next Test at Johannesburg which starts on January 13. He will receive localised treatment in the meantime.

England's coach, Duncan Fletcher, was quick to dismiss suggestions that Flintoff had been overbowled on the tour. "These kind of injuries can come from anything," he said on Wednesday. "Sometimes it comes from no bowling and sometimes it comes from too much bowling. If we knew how these injuries came about we might be able to stop them."

Whether Mark Butcher will be fit to play in the next Test or not still remains to be seen. He withdrew from the third Test with a wrist injury. He will continue to wear a brace for another two or three days and then another assessment will be made.