Andrew Flintoff will undergo surgery next week on his injured ankle and is ruled out of the Pakistan Test and one-day series plus the whole domestic season. His recovery time is expected to be around 12 weeks, which is likely to also rule him out of the Champions Trophy and leaves only a few weeks before the start of the Ashes tour.
Flintoff visited a specialist on Saturday after feeling discomfort during his Championship return for Lancashire, against Kent, at Canterbury. The decision has now been taken for him to go under the knife in a bid to solve the problem in time for the Ashes.
He suffered pain in his ankle during the final Test defeat to Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge, and specialists thought several bone fragments left behind from an operation at the start of last year were the cause of the problem. However, instead of opting for surgery straight away Flintoff was given a programme of weight and strengthening exercises to try and build up his ankle.
The signs were promising as Flintoff steadily increased his workload over the last couple weeks, starting with two Twenty20 matches for Lancashire before his Championship return. He bowled 19 overs in the first innings against Kent, taking two wickets in his first spell. However, despite opening the bowling in the second innings he sent down just two overs of medium-pace on the final day before heading off the field.
England drew the first Test against Pakistan, at Lord's, and the four-man bowling attack was lightweight without Flintoff's presence. Andrew Strauss led the side and will now captain the side for the remainder of the summer and, in all probability, the Champions Trophy too.
The England squad for the second Test against Pakistan, at Old Trafford, will be announced on Sunday morning.