England news November 6, 2009

Flintoff admits comeback may be delayed

Cricinfo staff

Andrew Flintoff has a three-year Lancashire deal under his belt, but is unsure when he will be able to return to the cricket field as he continues a slow recovery from post-Ashes knee surgery. In his original time scale he had earmarked the one-day series against Bangladesh, starting at the end of February, but admitted that may now be "unrealistic".

Although in good spirits as he discussed his new county deal and reiterated his desire to develop his one-day game Flintoff, who flew in from his temporary home in Dubai for the Old Trafford press conference, has only recently come off crutches almost 12 weeks after the operation he had the day after England regained the Ashes.

"I said I'd like to go to Bangladesh with the one-day squad, but that might be unrealistic," he said. "I've got the IPL after that and then the Twenty20 World Cup. I've been off the crutches for nearly two weeks but I can't run yet. I've just started gentle cycling, and I've been spending a lot of time in the pool, and just generally ticking over.

"I'm just under 12 weeks since the op. I'll probably know more at the 12-week stage, I'll see the surgeon, he'll re-scan me and he will have a better idea of how the operation has gone and where I'm at with it.

"He is pretty confident, as am I. So far it's just been doing a lot of the boring stuff. After I've had the scan I can build back up to running and hopefully get in the nets and start practising some time after Christmas. First and foremost I want to get on a cricket field again."

Peter Moores, the Lancashire coach, was similarly cautious about Flintoff's comeback schedule, but was confident that the club hadn't been over ambitious in offering the allrounder a lengthy contract despite his injury problems.

"I don't think so. He is still in rehab and is to get fit but it's all going to schedule at the moment," Moores said. "Fred said to start with his target was Bangladesh just after Christmas but that might be a little bit early, and internationally then there is the Twenty20 World Cup."

Though Flintoff's England comeback may now be at the World Twenty20 in West Indies, his first return to action could be for the Chennai Super Kings at the IPL in March. He has one year left on his current deal having made a brief appearance at the 2009 event before returning home with the first occurrence of his knee problem.

Since turning down an ECB incremental contract, Flintoff has been linked with a number of other Twenty20 sides around the world including states in Australia and South African franchises. He remains keen to take up these opportunities, but insists he will put his England and Lancashire priorities first.

"I'm not going to give up Test cricket and then kill myself playing any other cricket I can find," he said. "I want to play tournaments and games which excite me. The IPL is obviously one of them, and I'm contracted to Chennai for another year, and there's Lancashire and England too, if selected.

"Personally, I'd also like to try and play in Australia. I wanted to go at 16 but my Mum wouldn't let me. I worked at Woolworths instead, but as I said, I won't be killing myself by playing anything and everything."