P Deeley: Hick happy back in the limelight (22 Jul 1998)

22 July 1998

Hick happy back in the limelight

By Peter Deeley

A CHASM of 13 years in age and a world of international experience lie between Graeme Hick and Andrew Flintoff but each player regards the call to arms for England's Trent Bridge Test team as the ultimate career challenge.

While the 20-year-old Flintoff stands on the threshold, for Hick, now 33, it will be the opportunity to rekindle the status which deserted him when he was dropped by England two years ago after 46 appearances.

Flintoff, a young player of few words but already many deeds, merely says he is "very excited" at the prospect of being selected for the fourth Test against South Africa beginning tomorrow.

Hick is adamant that the idea of being "past it" at Test level never crossed his mind during his time in the wilderness. "I never thought I wouldn't come back. If that had been my attitude I would have found it very hard to carry on playing."

Hick calls it "a fresh start" and will approach the Test with "a good attitude and approach. I don't feel as anxious now as I did in the past. I feel a lot different to two years ago. When you have a couple of years out as I did you sit back and listen and learn and I am feeling freer in myself and really confident."

He will be batting at No 6 and said: "I will play where I am told. If I had my own choice it would be open to discussion but I have been asked to do that job. I've done it before. It was at times uncomfortable but in this game I will take that experience in with me and approach it in a different way."

Flintoff would like to be "a genuine all-rounder: and the sooner the better". If chosen, he is determined to be his normal aggressive self - the advice he has already received from the England dressing room. "I like to attack the ball rather than be dominated and that is the way I have played since I was nine," he said.

Michael Atherton, who took a knock on a finger during Lancashire's AXA League game on Monday, and Mark Ramprakash, suffering from tonsillitis, appeared to have overcome their problems in the nets yesterday.

David Graveney, England's chairman of selectors, indicated that one player would probably be released in time to return to his county for the next championship round.

Peter Pollock, South Africa's convenor of selectors, arrived in England yesterday and travelled straight to Nottingham where he had talks about a possible replacement for Lance Klusener, now back home awaiting an ankle operation.

The likelihood is that the tourists will not call up a replacement for the remaining two Tests but one may be brought over for next month's one-day triangular series.

Source :: Electronic Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)