Flintoff set to miss NZ series

LONDON: Andrew Flintoff’s long-awaited return to Test cricket could have to wait until the visit of South Africa in July, after Lancashire’s cricket manager, Mike Watkinson, suggested he would not be fit enough to return to county cricket ahead of the third Test against New Zealand at Trent Bridge next month.

Flintoff, who hasn’t played in a Test for England since the Ashes tour of Australia in January 2007, had been pencilled in for a recall at Lord’s this week, after bowling with extreme pace and accuracy during his comeback for Lancashire this season.

He had shrugged off the effects of a fourth bout of ankle surgery, but then sustained a side strain while playing against Durham that ruled him out of the first two Tests of the summer.

In order to play a part in the third Test against New Zealand, which starts on June 5, Flintoff would have to line up for Lancashire against their arch-rivals Yorkshire, during their Championship clash at Headingley on May 28.

But Watkinson told The Guardian: “I don’t think he’ll be back for the Roses match.”

Watkinson doesn’t envisage Flintoff playing a four-day fixture until their home match against Nottinghamshire on June 6. That being the case, England might be forced to wait a while longer before allowing Flintoff to resume his 67-Test career.