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Flintoff hoping for Lord's call-up

Andrew Flintoff says he is ready to return for England in the first Test against New Zealand next week despite his dismal form with the bat this season

Cricinfo staff

Andrew Flintoff picked up seven wickets in Lancashire's win over Durham bat his batting has been a concern © Getty Images
Andrew Flintoff says he is ready to return for England in the first Test against New Zealand next week despite his dismal form with the bat this season. Flintoff was bundled out for a pair this week in Lancashire's match against Durham, but his bowling has been sharp since he came back from his fourth ankle operation.
"I definitely feel I could play a Test match now," Flintoff told the Sun. "I've missed a lot of international cricket in the past, so I'm itching to play for England once more. My bowling in both forms of the game has been going very well. The ball is coming out nicely and there have been no ill-effects or twinges in the ankle, which is a big relief."
Flintoff has not played a Test since he captained England to a 5-0 Ashes loss in Australia, a series that ended 16 months ago. The squad to take on New Zealand at Lord's starting next Thursday will be announced on Sunday and one of the major decisions for the selectors is whether they will rush Flintoff in, and if so, who is squeezed out.
His bowling form suggests he could be in the mix; he picked up 4 for 21 in the first innings against Durham and followed it with 3 for 7 late on the second day. But choosing him as an allrounder might be risky as he has made County Championship scores of 23, 0, 0 and 0, combined with one-day efforts of 27, 10 and 8 this season.
"In the nets, I'm hitting the ball fine," Flintoff said. "Anyone can get a first-baller and, in fairness, I got a good delivery from Peter Trego against Somerset and the ball against Durham on Wednesday moved enough to take the edge.
"I still consider myself a batting allrounder. I think I always will. I would say I take more pride in my batting. I just need to get a score and I'll be fine. If I do play for England again, I'd love to bat as high up the order as I can.
"But I know I've not set the world alight with my batting so far, so don't feel in any position to say where I want to bat. I'd love to have both parts of the game working well, though that's not possible very often when you're an all-rounder. Normally, the batting or the bowling is going better."
Although several of his county opponents have said Flintoff should be picked for his bowling, there is not unanimous support for the man who has played 14 Tests since the 2005 Ashes without scoring a century or taking five wickets in an innings. Ian Botham believes Flintoff must spend more time playing for Lancashire before playing at international level.
"I would just hold Fred back a bit. I'd like him to play a bit more county cricket," Botham told the BBC. "I'd like him to have plenty of overs under his belt and plenty of runs as a batsman come the South Africans, because I think that will be a much sterner test.
"I'd just like him to be given that time to get his confidence back, full confidence in his body and more importantly in that ankle. England do need him but they need a fit Fred. But he also knows this is really make-or-break time because he's 30 years old and he's had four operations on it [his ankle], so it's got to be right."