Flintoff won't bowl against India
The good news was that England cruised through their first, and only, practice game against an unheralded side; the bad news is that Andrew Flintoff, who smashed a breezy 59 with the bat, revealed that he will not be bowling in the opening game of the Champions Trophy, a crucial clash against India on Sunday.
"I won't be bowling this Sunday," Flintoff told reporters at the end of a tiring day in the field. "As for the series, I'm bowling in the nets, trying to build it [the ankle] up. As for an exact date as to when I'll be bowling again, I'm not sure. I've bowled two or three times in the nets and it's feeling strong but that's something that we're assessing day by day."
Speculation has been rife about Flintoff opening the batting in the tournament and his entry at No.3 today lent more weight to that theory. Flintoff, though, played his cards close to his chest. "Today, we had the order we had," he dead-batted. "Going into Sunday, we'd need to discuss with the coach and decide. We have quite a few options we can take but it's something we'll finalise before Sunday."
Flintoff was visibly sapped at the end of a demanding day under the Jaipur sun but he brushed aside suggestions that the weather might affect his team's chances. "I thought we coped quite well with the heat last time," he reasoned, talking about England's visit to India earlier in the year, when they encountered temperatures so oppressive that a few players needed saline drips. "We have experience in playing in extreme heat. It's something we're aware of. We're getting accustomed to it in the last few days."
Just as they'd done against Pakistan, England played both their spinners - Jamie Dalrymple and Michael Yardy - in the warm-up game as well. "We played two spinners today and they're obviously vital members of our side as are the pace bowlers. We're quite fortunate to have three allrounders in the side - Collingwood, Yardy and Dalrymple. They all bat well and bowl their overs. We also have Rikki Clarke. It gives us a lot of depth."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo