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Flintoff sets comeback date

LONDON, Apr 28 – England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is expected to be fit for June's World Twenty20 event after he underwent keyhole surgery on his right knee, the England and Wales Cricket (Board) said Tuesday. FREDDIE_FLINTOFFThe fast bowler and hard-hitting batsman tore the meniscus in his right knee while playing in the Indian Premier League in South Africa.

Hugh Morris, the England cricket managing director, said: "The surgeon has informed the ECB chief medical officer Nick Peirce the operation went extremely smoothly.

"I am grateful to the ECB medical team, the surgeon and radiologists as well as the Chennai Super Kings (Flintoff’s IPL team) for keeping the England team management and me informed about Andrew’s injury and the subsequent operation."

An ECB statement added: "It is expected that Flintoff will make a normal recovery and should be available for the ICC World Twenty20 which will be held in England in June."

That would leave Flintoff with between five to six weeks to regain full fitness but the ECB’s optimism about the 31-year-old Lancashire star’s prospects may not be widely shared given his extensive injury history.

And the fact that Flintoff, who has a lucrative England central contract designed to give the national management control over when he plays and when he rests, suffered his latest injury while playing in the money-spinning IPL, has led to criticism of both the player and the board.

"Players just cannot have their cake and eat it," former England captain Nasser Hussain wrote in the Daily Mail last weekend after news of Flintoff’s latest injury became public.

"They cannot expect to reap the benefits of a lucrative central contract and then only be under the control of the ECB when it suits them.

"Player power has over-ridden common sense," added Hussain, who played alongside Flintoff for England.

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England have a busy home season with the West Indies series and the World Twenty20 coming ahead of an Ashes campaign, with England fans hoping Flintoff can repeat his outstanding performance in their side’s 2005 series win at home to Australia.

"We must now ask: just what is the point of the England players’ central contracts if they are not to guard against them getting injured ahead of a summer containing the World Twenty20 and the Ashes?" Hussain said.

The likes of Australia captain Ricky Ponting withdrew from this year’s IPL to concentrate on their international commitments.

Flintoff’s career has been interrupted by several injuries with foot, back, groin, hernia, shoulder, side and hip problems all causing him to miss international matches, while his left ankle has been operated on four times.

He became the jointly most highly valued player in world cricket when he was signed to play in the IPL for 1.55 million dollars, as was his England team-mate Kevin Pietersen.

But Flintoff took just two wickets at an expensive 52.50 apiece in his three IPL matches.
His absence could open up a way back into Test cricket for former captain Michael Vaughan or all-rounder Ravi Bopara when the squad for next week’s first Test against the West Indies at Lord’s is announced on Wednesday.

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