Andrew Flintoff, who was bought by the Chennai Super Kings for US$1.5 million in the second auction, believes the IPL will help him reach his peak for a busy summer. Flintoff has signed on for two weeks with Chennai and intends to absorb as much as he can from team-mates and opposition in a bid to aid England in the ICC World Twenty20 at home in June.
"It's been frustrating with the hip injury, thigh injury and getting hit on the thumb just before the end of the tour of the West Indies and I think the IPL will be good for me," said Flintoff, who had earlier expressed disappointment at not being able to play the tournament in India. "There are a few people putting it down but keeping playing should help me out a lot. When I stop and start is when my body is at its most vulnerable.
"I know I'm only bowling four overs a game, but it will give me a chance to work on my game in between games going into a Test series and I will be working with top facilities out in South Africa."
England's hectic summer includes Test and one-day series against West Indies, the ICC World Twenty20, the Ashes and a seven-match one-day series against Australia. The other leading England players in the IPL include Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara, all of whom will report back in England by May 1.
"It is a long schedule and everyone is looking forward to the Ashes and making sure everyone is fit for that but I've stressed all along that we have to perform in all the games we're playing," said Flintoff. "From my point of view, although it's been frustrating I've had four or five weeks when I've not played because I've been injured so I'm probably fresher than a lot of the lads.
"If I'm asked whether I'm jaded in September I'll probably be on my knees but at this moment in time I'm looking forward to getting on with it."
During the IPL Flintoff will play alongside the likes of Matthew Hayden, MS Dhoni and Muttiah Muralitharan for Chennai and he hoped it would give him clues about preparation techniques and the strength and weaknesses of opposition in the ICC World Twenty20.
"The Twenty20 World Cup is going to be huge and international Twenty20 cricket is going to become bigger and bigger," said Flintoff. "While I'm out there I'll be watching the likes of Dhoni, who has played a lot of it, and Hayden who had a good IPL last year. I will be speaking to a few of the Indian guys and see if I can pick their brains.
"I think you'll find players helping each other out and talking to each other, but the flip side of that is that other sides have England team-mates so you have to be a bit cautious about what you're saying. Ultimately, it's all about playing for England and by passing on a bit of information about one of your players could be to the detriment of this team and that's something you can't do."
Flintoff will play his first IPL match against the Mumbai Indians in Cape Town on April 18 before facing Pietersen's Bangalore Royal Challengers in Port Elizabeth two days later. He can play up to a total of seven IPL games before returning to England.