England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Edgbaston, 4th day May 28, 2006

Flintoff hails Pietersen

Cricinfo staff

Andrew Flintoff, who hit the winning runs, and Alastair Cook celebrate victory © Getty Images
After leading England to a convincing victory over Sri Lanka in the second Test at Edgbaston today, and hitting the winning runs, Andrew Flintoff paid tribute to Kevin Pietersen whose 142 in England's first innings set them up for victory.

"The difference between the teams was KP's knock," Flintoff said. "Whoever saw it witnessed something special - who knows how good he can be? He is something really special, I don't think that's a secret.

"He's only played a handful of Test matches and in that short time he's got better and better," Flintoff said. "I'm going to be excited to watch and play with Kevin over the next few years and see how his career unfolds. Hopefully, in years to come, people will be talking about finding a 'new Kevin Pietersen' and talking about him in the same breath as the likes of Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar."

Speaking of the win, Flintoff said: "It was a comfortable in the end, but hard-fought as the wicket probably suited them more than us.

"I bowled more overs than normal in the last Test because I try to bowl to the circumstances," he said. "This pitch wasn't my type of pitch; it suited Matthew Hoggard and Liam Plunkett better, those bowlers who hit the surface and move the ball around."

Though the margin of six wickets appears comphenesive enough for England, they were made to work hard all day. Liam Plunkett earlier wrapped up Sri Lanka's innings in a hurry and, with figures of 3 for 17, put his name forward for the final Test at Trent Bridge. England could yet recall Steve Harmison, who last week returned to bowling in a Championship match, for Friday's Test meaning there will be just one available place between Plunkett and Sajid Mahmood.

Meanwhile, it is expected that the England captain, Michael Vaughan, will finally return to competitive cricket tomorrow for Yorkshire's clash against Scotland. Commenting on the news, Flintoff was delighted but confirmed that his role as stand-in captain is very much a short-term solution.

"It's been fantastic doing the job as England captain," he said, "but it's a temporary job - he [Vaughan] is the one who's taken the side forward in the past three years. Maybe further down the line if the job became available I'd be interested. But with Michael back I can just get back to my day job."