'Best years' ahead says Flintoff
Andrew Flintoff reckoned the best years of his career could still be ahead of him as he prepared for his England return during the upcoming one-day series against India.
Injury problems have beset the all-rounder since he played a leading role in England's 2005 Ashes success but, following a fresh bout of surgery on his troublesome left ankle in May, he is due to face India in Southampton on Tuesday in the first of seven one-day internationals.
Flintoff told Britain's Sun newspaper: "I believe the injury could actually help extend my career because I feel mentally very fresh. I won't be playing when I'm 50 but I'm only 29 and there's a lot left in me. I hope my best years are ahead of me."
For all his Ashes triumphs in England, it was a different story for Flintoff come the return series in Australia during the 2006-07 season.
The Lancashire star, leading England in the absence of injured captain Michael Vaughan, saw Australia win back the Ashes 5-0.
Then at the World Cup, which followed England's tour of Australia, he was stripped of the vice-captaincy after a drinking session ended with him going out on a pedalo in the early hours of the morning in St Lucia.
"For two or three years, most things went the way I wanted," said Flintoff. "But I've had some setbacks with injury, losing the Ashes, struggling in the World Cup - and even the pedalo business."
He added, "But I really feel I can get better. My bowling is improving and I've been working hard on my batting."
"The ankle feels great. The operation was something I needed and everyone is pleased with what I've been able to do since."