x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Flintoff a doubt for second Test

Steve Harmison is added to the England squad for the second Test against Australia at Lord's on Thursday.

The all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has emerged as a doubt for this week's second Ashes Test at Lord's after experiencing discomfort in the same knee which was operated on earlier this year. The Lancastrian, 31, has been included in a 14-man squad for Thursday's Test at Lord's, but is due to go for a scan later today to determine the extent of the soreness he experienced in his right knee during the drawn opening Test. England have added Durham fast bowler Steve Harmison to the squad as cover for Flintoff, who only returned to action after undergoing surgery on the same knee last month after injuring it during his spell in the Indian Premier League. Flintoff is due to be examined over the next two days before England make a decision on his fitness, but the latest injury setback for their influential all-rounder is bound to be seen as a concern just a few days before the start of the next Test. "Andrew is experiencing soreness and swelling in the knee which he twisted while in the field and he will be reassessed by the medical staff over the next 48 hours leading up to the Test on Thursday," said the national selector Geoff Miller. "In the event of Andrew being unfit, we see Stephen as a like-for-like replacement in terms of the type of bowler he is and his ability to unsettle the opposition batsmen with pace and bounce.

"But we will need to consider all our options carefully when we come to determine the make-up of our bowling attack at Lord's and the final decision will depend on our assessment of the pitch and the likely overhead conditions." Flintoff played two championship matches and two Twenty20 Cup games for Lancashire before being recalled for the Ashes squad, although he was disciplined by England for missing the team bus on a pre-Test trip to Belgium to visit First World War battle sites. He was the most hostile England bowler on show during the opening Test and played a part in the dramatic success in saving the game, batting with Paul Collingwood for 91 minutes. Harmison's return after claiming wickets for England Lions against Australia and for Durham this week against Yorkshire at Headingley will boost the bowling options, although the selectors may have to look at the batting line-up if Flintoff is ruled out.

Durham seamer Graham Onions and Warwickshire batsman Ian Bell, who were named in the squad for the first Test but missed out on the starting line-up, retain their places alongside the line-up who drew in Cardiff. "It required a tremendous effort to save the first Test and no praise can be high enough for the fighting qualities shown by Paul Collingwood together with our lower order batsmen," said Miller. "Their application at the crease and determination to get the job done was first-rate. "We are well aware, however, that we did not perform well in Cardiff over the five days and will need to improve in all areas of our game if we are to overcome what is a strong Australian side." * PA Sport