x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Strauss is desperate to give Flintoff a final fling

The England captain will wait with bated breath for a decision on Andrew Flintoff's fitness ahead of the fifth and final Test.

LEEDS // The England captain Andrew Strauss will wait with bated breath for a decision on Andrew Flintoff's fitness ahead of the fifth and final Test. Flintoff, who was forced to miss England's innings and 80-run defeat at Headingley, will undergo a scan on his troublesome knee later today. The all-rounder, 31, is poised to undergo a strict rehabilitation programme ahead of the game at the Oval starting on August 20, with England prepared to give him as much chance as possible to prove his fitness.

Strauss, in particular, is desperate for his team's talisman to overcome his latest injury setback and finish his Test career in fairytale fashion by firing England to Ashes glory. "It's important to get the Freddie issue dealt with quickly and ideally we'll get a result as quickly as possible," said Strauss. "On the back of Edgbaston it's hard to know if he will be fit or not. He wasn't quite fit enough to play at Headingley but he will be monitored by the medical team.

"He was bitterly disappointed not to play in this match but obviously the decision was made on the level of fitness he thought he had. "He is still desperate to play in that final Test but he realises he has to be fit enough to play and I'm very hopeful he will be." While Flintoff is certain to be recalled by England, should he pass a fitness test, doubts surround several other members of the team who were so comprehensively outplayed in Leeds.

Ian Bell looks likely to be dropped after his desperately poor contribution in the middle order, while Ravi Bopara may be relegated from the number three position after failing once again. James Anderson will also undergo treatment on the hamstring problem which prevented him from bowling extra overs during the Australian innings. Strauss, however, has called for a period of "quiet reflection" following this latest debacle and insists he will not be rushed into making quickfire decisions on his team selection for the Oval.

"If you're thinking about wholesale changes then I'd be quite resistant to that," he added. "At the same time, we have to make a judgement call on who the best 11 players are to win that final game. "We have to wait on the fitness of Freddie and then the balance of the side becomes an issue. "Whenever Freddie doesn't play then we have a problem with the balance of our side and we thought that we would go for the extra bowler because taking 20 wickets is a big thing for us.

"You look back at it now and we would have loved to have had an extra batsman but the Oval Test match is a new game with completely different conditions and we'll deal with those." sports@thenational.ae