Flintoff's prognosis good - surgeon
The surgeon who operated on the knee injuries suffered by Michael Vaughan and Simon Jones believes Andrew Flintoff shouldn't have any major problems recovering from the operation he will have next week after returning from the IPL.
Dr Derek Bickerstaff, who worked on Vaughan's knee in 2006 after the England captain limped out of the tour of India, explained that the problem Flintoff has been struck with while playing for the Chennai Super Kings is common among sportsmen but the repair work is fairly simple
"Basically the meniscus is like a shock-absorber in the knee and when the tear occurs you'll feel the symptoms as you run," he told Cricinfo. "It's fairly straight forward key-hole surgery where they will go in and remove the loose fragments to clean up the knee. As far as the operation is concerned he should be in and out in a day."
With Flintoff ruled out of the West Indies series the key time frame is now whether he recovers for the ICC World Twenty20 and, crucially, the Ashes which start in July. The ECB have said that the recovery timeline is around three to five weeks and Dr Bickerstaff agreed that was a reasonable assessment depending on the exact nature of the injury.
"There are different levels of this sort of injury," he said. "But the recovery period should also be pretty rapid. There will probably be a week of rest followed by two weeks on the bike in the gym and by four weeks he should be training again and be ready to play after about six if everything goes well"
Looking at the longer-term Dr Bickerstaff said that once Flintoff has recovered it isn't the type of injury that should leave him with major problems. "There is a small risk that the operation could leave the knee susceptible to further problems because some of the shock-absorbing tissue has been removed, but it's unlikely to be a factor in the life-time of a fast bowler like Andrew Flintoff although he may suffer later in the life. It shouldn't prevent him returning to action effectively."
ECB medical staff have been keeping close tabs on all the England players at the IPL and Dr Nick Peirce, the chief medical officer, said: "Clearly this is a huge disappointment for both the player and the IPL team. This sort of degenerative injury though is one that could have happened at any time any where. The procedures we put in place meant that the ECB medical staff were alerted about the problem immediately and we thank Chennai for their co operation."
Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo