x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Ponting wary of Flintoff progress

Australia captain Ricky Ponting will be keeping a particularly close eye on Andrew Flintoff's progress in the build-up to the Ashes.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting will be keeping a particularly close eye on Andrew Flintoff's progress in the build-up to the Ashes. Flintoff played a starring role as England beat Australia in 2005 but the all-rounder has failed to hit those heights since, mainly due to a catalogue of niggling injuries. The Lancashire man is currently rehabilitating from keyhole surgery to his right knee ? an injury he sustained playing for the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League. He has been named in the England squad for the World Twenty20 but his participation remains in doubt. Ponting is aware of how dangerous a fully-fit Flintoff can be. "He'll be important for them if he is 100 per cent. I think we saw the difference between him being 100 per cent fit and probably 90 per cent fit between 2005 and 2007," Ponting said. "I'll be keeping a close eye on him through the Twenty20s, just to see how fit and good he is." Australia gained revenge for their 2005 defeat by whitewashing their great rivals on home soil in the 2006-07 series but Ponting freely admits a victory in England is what he really craves. "That's certainly one thing that will be missing off my resume as captain of this team. Obviously 2005 didn't go the way we would have liked and there was a lot made of the tour," Ponting added. "But at the end of the day I was no more disappointed than the next guy. I was captain of the side but we all hurt exactly the same way and that's one thing I'll certainly be getting across to the guys this time." Australia may have lost the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Matthew Hayden since their last visit but a series win in South Africa at the start of the year proved a rebuilt side is not to be underestimated. Ponting said: "We've experienced what it's like to lose Test matches and a couple of big series, but we've just found out a few months ago just how enjoyable and rewarding it can be if you maintain a certain level of cricket and beating South Africa in South Africa was a great reward for us all. "We know what it takes now, so it's a matter of getting over to England and doing it there." The chemistry gained from that series in South Africa has done wonders for the team and Ponting hopes it will continue in England. "I think the chemistry was one of the great things that we had in South Africa," he said. "A lot of the young guys came in and had an opportunity to pass on their own personalities in a week before the first Test match in South Africa and I think that was a really good thing for the group. "We've got to make sure we do that again in England this time round. We're away for a long time, I think we're probably together for four or five months through the Ashes tour." The first Ashes Test will start in Cardiff on July 8. *PA Sport