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Australia will target Flintoff, says Ponting

Australian skipper says they believe containing the talismanic Englishman could spark a collapse among other players in the touring side.

india Updated: Nov 09, 2006 20:20 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Australian captain Ricky Ponting admitted on Thursday his England counterpart Andrew Flintoff would be the host nation's main target when the campaign to regain the Ashes begins this month.

Ponting said Australia believed containing the talismanic Englishman could spark a collapse among other players in the touring side that would help bring the Ashes back down under, after last year's shock loss to their old rival.

"He's such a vital part of their side, if you happen to keep him down for a few Test matches in a row or a few performances here and there, it might drag a couple of their other players down with him," Ponting said.

Flintoff was England's leading wicket-taker and third-highest run-scorer in last year's Ashes campaign, earning plaudits as the best cricketer in the world as he inspired his side to its first series win in 18 years.

This time around, he has the added burden of the captaincy and is recovering from ankle surgery, giving Ponting hope he can be restricted.

"It is important that we do that with him, more so for his playing abilities than his leadership," he said. "We all saw last time around that he can be dynamic with the bat and the ball.

"I think their team really do run off him a little bit. If we can restrict him and put him under pressure right through the series, then hopefully a few of their other players might start feeling the pressure as well.

"If we can start taking more than one player down, it gives us a great chance of winning."

England's touring party has its first match since arriving in Australia against a Prime Minister's XI in Canberra Friday.

It is expected to provide a hit-out for several players short of match fitness, including spinners Ashley Giles and Monty Panesar, and batsmen Marcus Trescothick and Alastair Cook.

The first of five Ashes Tests begins in Brisbane on November 23.

First Published: Nov 09, 2006 20:20 IST