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'Spell Down Under could help Flintoff'

Matthew Hoggard feels that Australian club cricket could be a real boost for the skipper in helping him recuperate for the Ashes series.
None | By Agence France-Presse, London
UPDATED ON JUL 26, 2006 01:51 PM IST

Australian club cricket could be a real boost for Andrew Flintoff in helping him return from an ankle injury for this winter's Ashes series, England bowler Matthew Hoggard said.

Chairman of selectors David Graveney has admitted to being 'mischievous' when he suggested Cricket Australia may want to help arrange practice matches for England's stand-in skipper, who is set to be sidelined for 12 weeks following ankle surgery.

However Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has already given his approval, insisting Flintoff would give a significant short-term boost to the domestic game Down Under.

Hoggard also believes it would be mutually beneficial and said, "Every opposition does it to us, they send their players to county cricket to get used to the pitches and to the conditions, and I think it would be a good help if he can get over there to get some miles under him."

The Yorkshire bowler, who himself was a major injury doubt prior to the first Test against Pakistan after suffering a gashed hand in a bizarre training accident, bemoaned news of the latest fitness scare for England.

His fellow paceman Liam Plunkett is set to miss the next two Tests and possibly the entire summer with a side strain.

Hoggard said, "It's disappointing news about Liam. He is obviously a talented cricketer and he has shown us what he can do, and unfortunately he is another one that has succumbed to injury."

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