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Flintoff leads England's Ashes defence

"We want to play as we did last summer, probably even better," said the star all-rounder.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2006 21:13 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

Andrew Flintoff will be England's captain in the Ashes series in Australia.

On the first anniversary of the day England regained the Ashes from Australia after 16 years, the England selectors opted for the Lancashire all-rounder rather than Middlesex opener Andrew Strauss to lead the 16-man squad.

The five-Test series starts November 23 in Brisbane. With Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan still out of action because of a recurring knee problem that threatens his career, Flintoff and Strauss have each led the team with mixed results. Flintoff was in charge when England drew 1-1 with Sri Lanka but was ruled out of the rest of the English summer because of an ankle injury which required surgery. When Strauss took over for the one-day series, England lost 5-0.

England then rallied under Strauss to win the Test series against Pakistan 3-0, and then came back from 2-0 down in the one-day series to draw 2-2.

Flintoff will also captain a 14-man one-day squad for the October 7-November 5 ICC Champions Trophy in India.

"The lads who were involved in (the Ashes triumph) want to experience it all again and lads who weren't there want to play in it," Flintoff said Tuesday.

"We have to go over there confident. We can't have any fear of losing the Ashes and giving them back. We want to play as we did last summer, probably even better."

England won last year's five-Test series 2-1 to hold the urn for the first time since 1989, when Australia won the first of its eight straight Ashes series.

Chairman of selectors David Graveney said that there was no vice captain.

"We have had to make a very tough decision in choosing between Andrew Flintoff and Andrew Strauss for the captaincy and we were fortunate to have two such outstanding candidates available to us," Graveney said.

"Ultimately, we took the view that Andrew Flintoff had demonstrated excellent leadership skills during a difficult tour of India earlier this year, that he was the man in possession and deserved a further opportunity to continue."

The selectors picked left hand opener Marcus Trescothick, who has been out of form for much of the series and has decided not to take part in the Champions Trophy because of a stress-related illness. The Somerset batsmen also flew home from the tour of India at the end of February for family reasons.

Of the Ashes winning squad a year ago, Vaughan and Glamorgan paceman Simon Jones were ruled out because of long-term injuries. Left-arm spinner Ashley Giles will travel to India for the Champions Trophy to continue his rehabilitation from hip surgery but will not play. He will have to prove his match fitness before the Ashes.

James Anderson and Stephen Harmison are also expected to play first-class cricket before the end of England's domestic season in order to prove their fitness.

Jones was advised by a specialist to delay his return to cricket until the 2007 domestic season following surgery on his left knee.

Ashes Squad:

Andrew Flintoff (captain), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Ashley Giles, Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Geraint Jones, Sajid Mahmood, Monty Panesar, Liam Plunkett, Kevin Pietersen, Chris Read, Andrew Strauss, Marcus Trescothick.

Champions Trophy Squad:

Andrew Flintoff (captain), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Rikki Clarke, Paul Collingwood, Jamie Dalrymple, Steve Harmison, Ed Joyce, Sajid Mahmood, Jon Lewis, Kevin Pietersen, Chris Read, Andrew Strauss, Michael Yardy.

First Published: Sep 12, 2006 21:13 IST