x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Strauss confident England can cope without Flintoff

Andrew Strauss is adamant England will be able to cope with the loss of Andrew Flintoff should he succumb to injury.

Andrew Strauss is adamant England will be able to cope with the loss of Andrew Flintoff should he succumb to injury. The 31-year-old all-rounder, who will retire from Test cricket at the end of this summer's Ashes series, looked to be struggling throughout the final day with his troublesome knee injury. With the fourth Test set to start on Friday at Headingley, Flintoff faces a race against time to be fit for the clash in Leeds. England have already lost star batsman Kevin Pietersen for the remainder of the series but captain Strauss insists his side are strong enough to play on without Flintoff should he be ruled out. "I think we can cope without him and we have done on plenty of occasions over the past two years," said Strauss. "The bowlers have stepped up their game when he hasn't played but at the moment we don't want to because he's in great form with the both the ball and bat. "You have to swing with the punches and we have a good enough squad to deal with it. "We have to be conscious that a lot of it comes down to how he feels. "He needs to be honest and he has been so far. He desperately wants to play in the last two matches and we're very optimistic." Meanwhile, the Australia captain Ricky Ponting says his team will take great heart from their performance in claiming a draw at Edgbaston. Michael Clarke's unbeaten century, his second Test ton of the series, and a fine 96 from Marcus North ensured the tourists kept their hopes of retaining the Ashes alive. "I've always said about Australian teams that when we're faced with adversity that we play our best cricket," said Ponting "I am very confident that we have a squad of players, who if they play their best cricket, will make sure we're ultra-competitive and will take some beating. "I think that not only in this game but at times at Cardiff and Lord's that when we've played our best there has been some excellent cricket. "We need to play more of our best cricket and if we do that then you'll see a very competitive Australia." Ponting also revealed that Brett Lee could return in time for Friday's fourth Test after stepping up his rehabilitation following a rib injury. He added: "Brett has done a lot of bowling this week and has been ultra-keen to bowl at every opportunity. "Whenever there has been a rain break or he hasn't been 12th man then he's been going to the indoor nets. "It's a good sign for us and he has been stepping up his pace but we'll need to see him go pretty hard in the next few days to give him a good chance of selection for the next match. "With the way things are going on I'd expect him to be able to bowl at 100 per cent over the next few days."