Andrew Flintoff has said that the heavy 166-run loss in Friday's opening Ashes tour match did not suddenly turn England into a bad side. Flintoff, who scored only a single as his team was drubbed by the Prime Minister's XI in a one-day game in Canberra, said England were far from despondent and would learn from their first experience of Australian conditions.
Flintoff put on a brave face with less than a fortnight to the opening Ashes Test at Brisbane. "We were outplayed by the Prime Minister's XI; they played some good cricket," Flintoff said. "On previous tours we have started slow and we've been beaten in warm-up games and we've bounced back quick."
Flintoff, like England have been doing recently, didn't read too much into the one-day game. "Today was a one-day game and we're not going to get too despondent about it. Next week we have the (three-day) New South Wales game, a longer form, and then we have the South Australia game so we're not despondent about it. We know we have to improve and we'll do that next week before the first Test in Brisbane.
"We had a defeat today. It doesn't turn us into a bad side. We've still got talented players and we're going to express ourselves in the weeks to come."
Three of England's top batsmen - Andrew Strauss (67), Alastair Cook (4) and Kevin Pietersen (7) - were all victims of short-pitched balls, with Shaun Tait in dynamic form to push his Test claims.
"The lads are aware of what happened today," Flintoff said. "Sometimes in one-day cricket you are looking to score runs and you are looking to take the ball on a little bit more and sometimes you play shots you probably wouldn't necessarily do in the longer form of the game. I'm sure the lads would have learned from today. In the dressing room the confidence is fine, the lads are still upbeat and we just have to work hard."
On a personal front, Flintoff was delighted to have bowled out his 10 overs to fully test his fitness from mid-year ankle surgery. "I was pleased. I got 10 overs under my belt, I started well in three spells, came back strong and the body felt good and my ankle pulled up nicely. So from my personal point I was pleased with my 10 overs," he said.
Cameron White, PM's XI captain, was satisfied with a job well done to help uncover some weaknesses in the England side for the Australian Test team to exploit. "I'm not sure how the defeat will affect them, but I think it might put them under a bit more pressure to perform in their tour games coming up," White said. "We talked about trying to put them on the back foot, so if that helped the Australian team out some way, we would have done our stuff."
Tait, who played down talk of his Test chances, said that based on the evidence of this game Australia had some cause for optimism about the upcoming Ashes series. "There are some (English) guys who don't really play the short ball that well and they are prepared to have a go at it, so we exploited that today and we got three wickets off short balls," Tait said. "The Australian team could look at that and maybe exploit that as well."