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Flintoff denies rift with Smith

Andrew Flintoff has denied any suggestions that he does not get along with Graeme Smith, World XI captain for the recently concluded Super Test against Australia, and backed his statement with a hostile bowling spell to help dismiss Australia for 199 in their second innings. The England and Lancashire player claimed three for 14 in a testing spell on the third day at Sydney.

Michael Vaughan's new book revealed that Smith termed Flintoff a `big baby' during last winter's tour of South Africa, yet Flintoff stated that he was in Australia to represent the World XI and had no problems playing with or under Smith. "Myself and Smithy had some issues during the series in England two years ago, we competed hard when we were on the pitch and it was no different in South Africa." Flintoff told The Sporting Life. "We have got to know each other quite well on this trip, I have spent time in his company and he is all right."

Critics have spared no efforts in denouncing the claims of the World XI, as a team of stars brought together to challenge the Australians lost all the games, including a 210-run thrashing in the Sydney Test, where the longer version of the game was supposed to have bolstered their chances. The singular moment of sheer aggression from Smith's side came in a manic 24-over spell on the third day when nine Australian wickets fell for just 47 runs, with Flintoff, Steve Harmison, and Muttiah Muralitharan snaring three scalps apiece.

Flintoff was quick to come to the World XI's defense. "The team spirit has been fine since we got together, most of the lads hit it off straight away. Obviously we don't play together regularly so everyone is still trying to find out what others do and what is the best way to get them to perform."

On Smith and any rift that may remain between the two, Flintoff closed off by maintaining that when the two are pitted against each other it is all healthy competition. "There has been a few words said between us both ways but we get on off the pitch. It is very much what happens on the pitch stays there and afterwards we can have a laugh about it over a beer."