'Flintoff must alter his bowling action'

Former Australian pacer Damien Fleming says Andrew Flintoff should cautiously streamline his action to reduce injuries.
By HT Correspondent | PTI, London
UPDATED ON AUG 09, 2007 04:30 PM IST

Andrew Flintoff can turn into a "shock" bowler than a "stock" bowler by a cautious streamlining of his action to reduce injuries, says former Australian fast bowler Damien Fleming.

"You tend to lose a lot of potency when you're injured and that's been the test for Freddie over the last 12 to 18 months," Fleming said.

"However, he could turn into a shock bowler rather than the stock bowler he has been for the past few years," he added.

Flintoff recently resumed playing after a third operation on his left ankle and has since been named in England's one-day and ICC World Twenty20 squads.

Fleming, who retired from cricket in 2003 to concentrate on coaching, said Flintoff's front foot was pointing towards fine leg rather than at the batsmen, the knee twists as the top half of the body rotates and hips and shoulders need to be straighter towards the batsman.

"He needs to get his hips and knee straighter to the target, but it will be tough at 29."

"Fast bowlers have a higher injury rate compared to other sports. I found when I was coaching (at Australia's centre of excellence in Adelaide) bowlers seem to be able to change their top half of their action easier than their bottom half," he was quoted as saying by the BBC Sport.

Fleming, however, warned any change in action could potentially negate Flintoff's main strengths.

"When you talk to batsmen they say his (Flintoff's) arms and legs fly everywhere, taking a lot of focus away from the ball," said Fleming, who took 75 wickets in 20 Test matches for Australia in a seven-year span.

"If his action gets streamlined too much, he may lose some of his main weapons - his unpredictability and extra bounce because of his high arm action."

Fleming also asked England fast bowling adviser Allan Donald to help Flintoff straighten his left foot at the point of delivery to avoid further injuries but Donald is concerned Flintoff's current action, where his front foot points inwards rather than straight towards the batsman, is placing excessive stress on the bone and muscle.

"It is not something that I am going to start working on modifying. It would have to be done in the close season. It is up to Freddie to decide," said Donald.

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