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August 17, 2005
Lancashire are considering lodging a formal protest against the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after Andrew Flintoff's withdrawal from Lancashire's C&G Trophy semi-final versus Warwickshire on August 20.
Jack Simmons, the chairman at Lancashire, was angry that all the national players had pulled out of the C&G Trophy matches after playing back-to-back Tests against Australia. The ECB said that Flintoff, who is currently taking a break in France, was carrying an ankle injury sustained against Australia, but Simmons was not convinced with that explaination. "If he has an ankle injury what treatment is he getting over there [in France]? The first I heard about it was at lunchtime when I learned that the ECB had circulated an email pulling all the England players out of the two semis," said Simmons, in a report in sportinglife.com. "You would have thought England would have had the courtesy to talk to me first about it. This, after all, is a chance to reach our first Lord's final since 1998, it is a massive game for the club."
The agreement between the counties and the ECB states that the centrally contracted players will be allowed to play in the C&G games unless they had an injury. "We weren't told that Freddie was unfit until I rang an ECB official who was on holiday," said Simmons. "Before that all we knew was that he would not be at Edgbaston and to say I was angry is an understatement."
Simmons said that he had no problem if Flintoff had withdrawn to be in better shape for the fourth Test at Trent Bridge but was angry because of the way the issue was handled by the ECB. "I'm now assured that the medical officer Peter Gregory believes he should not play on Saturday, and that by resting instead of being involved in the semi-final, he will be in better condition to take on the Aussies at Trent Bridge and, while that information came to us far too late, I am prepared to accept his word," said Simmons. "After all there is no-one more passionate about England winning the Ashes than I. If this helps, fine. But the way the ECB have handled this leaves me feeling rather sad."
Robin Smith, the chairman at Yorkshire, shared Simmons's anger at England's handling of the situation as Yorkshire will take the field without Michael Vaughan and Matthew Hoggard for their semi-final at the Rose Bowl against a Hampshire line up which will not include Kevin Pietersen. "We weren't properly informed of England's action, and we have no specific details of Hoggard's niggle," said Smith. "We'll be contacting the board to complain about the way this had been dealt with."
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