Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Flintoff Up for the Decider

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Flintoff Up for the Decider

Article excerpt

Byline: By Richard Gibson

Andrew Flintoff insists the presence of Kevin Pietersen in England's middle-order has not cramped his style.

The big-hitting duo line up against Australia in the NatWest Challenge decider at the Brit Oval today still to fulfil the nation's expectations of some exhilarating stands together.

Flintoff virtually carried the one-day batting last summer with three hundreds and a 99 but missed the winter engagements when Pietersen cemented his place with three centuries of his own.

Suggestions that the direct competition between the two might alter the dynamism of their natural games has, however, been rejected by Flintoff, who hit a thrilling 87 in a lost cause at Lord's at the weekend.

"Kevin is obviously a very exciting batsman but I have done well over the past 18 months playing the way I do and I cannot change that," he said.

"I am trying to refine my game a little bit but I cannot change my method of scoring runs.

"I have been searching for a bit of form so I have not been at my best this season but overall I feel my one-day game has got better.

"I can now nudge the ball around and wait on my shots rather than go looking for them."

Victory for England today will represent a resounding cry of intent ahead of the Ashes, a series which has never been out of the nation's consciousness during the see-saw one-day encounters over the past month.

For the present, attempting to avert back-to-back defeats against the Australians, who looked something like their old selves in levelling the three-match campaign at Lord's, promises to be the most significant examination of English credentials so far this summer.

The current balance of power is at equilibrium with each side winning twice in addition to the tied NatWest Series final and an abandoned contest at Edgbaston.

"It is the biggest game of the summer so far, it's 1-1, both sides will desperately want to win and we will be trying our damned best to do so," said Flintoff. …

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