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Ready Freddie suits Aussies

cricket Updated: Aug 04, 2009 21:53 IST
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Marcus North has insisted Australia want England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff fit for the final two Tests of the Ashes series so they can say they beat the best their oldest foes had to offer.

Flintoff has again been a thorn in Australia's side this season, after starring in the 2005 Ashes, bowling England to victory in the second Test at Lord's and top-scoring wit 74 for the hosts in the drawn third Test that ended at Edgbaston here on Monday.

But all the while 'Freddie' has been troubled by a right knee injury.

There are just three days between the end of the Edgbaston Test and Friday's start of the fourth Ashes encounter at Headingley.

England head there 1-0 up with two to play in the five-match series as they look to regain the Ashes and North, whose 96 at Edgbaston on Monday helped deny the home side another victory, said he hoped Flintoff kept his place.

"We want to play the best side we can play against when we play any other country," North told reporters at Australia's hotel here on Tuesday.

"We have already seen the impact that Andrew Flintoff has had on this series. He had a quiet game with the ball but he had that explosive innings with the bat.

"We want to walk away, taking the Ashes back home, beating a full-strength England side."

It is more than 20 years since Australia, who regained the Ashes with a 5-0 whitewash in 2006/07, have found themselves still behind this far into a Test series against England.

But North, who scored a century in the first Test at Cardiff where England clung on for a draw with just one wicket standing, said Australia had it in them to turn things around at Headingley and in the series finale at the Oval.

"We know if we play our best cricket, we walk away winning Test matches against any opponent," the middle-order batsman said.

"We all knew yesterday (Monday) was going to be a tough day of Test cricket, one where the Australian team had to show some character and fight - and we did that.

"We saw England do that in the first Test at Cardiff. We went out then expecting to win and England showed character and fight on that day and got a draw.

"I firmly believe England went out yesterday believing they were going to win and we showed that fight and character and ground the game out."