Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

ONIONS' BACKING FOR 'LEGEND' FLINTOFF; Onions Backs 'Legend' Flintoff

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

ONIONS' BACKING FOR 'LEGEND' FLINTOFF; Onions Backs 'Legend' Flintoff

Article excerpt

ANDREW Flintoff opted not to bowl at England's first preparation session for the penultimate Ashes Test. The all-rounder batted in the middle at Headingley, where the fourth match of the npower series begins tomorrow, but did not bowl as a precautionary measure.

The 31-year-old has been icing his injured right knee since the Edgbaston draw on Monday.

England's think-tank will want to give him every chance to retain his place in the XI and are likely to put off any decision until the morning of the match.

Flintoff has so far defied the pain to turn in a man-of-the-match display with the ball at Lord's and returned to form with the bat with 74 in England's only innings in Birmingham.

Fast bowler Graham Onions said: "Everyone knows that Andrew Flintoff is a legend who is a great person to have in our team. I think we are a stronger team with him but that is only if he is 100% fit.

"Andrew's going to be very honest. It is a shame that his body is in a little bit of discomfort at the moment but I am sure he will do everything he possibly can to be fit."

Flintoff, the hero of the 2005 Ashes, has been fronting a new-look attack including James Anderson and Durham's Onions, who was called into the team ahead of Stephen Harmison.

"In the last Test match on the last morning he got the bowlers together and gave us a massive amount of confidence that we could win the game," said Onions.

"He gave us a few reminders of the different plans we needed to bowl at different batters.

"That's Andrew Flintoff - he will give everything to the team, he will do anything he possibly can for England to win back the Ashes.

"We were all very excited and he just said 'hold your nerve' and that as long as we keep believing in tough times, we will come out on top."

Onions threw the third Test at Edgbaston wide open with two wickets from the first two balls of the second morning, a double strike that sent Australia spiralling from 126-1 to 263 all out. …

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