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Aussies on Fred alert

Australian captain Ricky Ponting will put the World Cup holders on Fred alert today after admitting he wouldn't mind having Freddie Flintoff in his side.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting will put the World Cup holders on Fred alert today after admitting he wouldn't mind having Freddie Flintoff in his side.

The pride of Preston was voted the world's best one-day player last year, and he was the only Englishman to make the International Cricket Council's composite world XI in both Test and limited-overs formats.

No wonder Ponting wouldn't mind a slugger of Flintoff's power in today's inaugural Twenty20 international at the Rose Bowl, where both sides are desperate to draw first blood as the Ashes phoney war turns at last from propaganda to proper action.

And England skipper Michael Vaughan - a Twenty20 virgin who has never played in this abridged form of the game - was suitably impressed, claiming Ponting's seal of approval for his kingpin all-rounder as a breakthrough.

Vaughan crowed: "If they would have Freddie in their side, we must have improved - for the last 10 years the Aussies have been saying they wouldn't want any of our players.

"This type of cricket is like venturing into the unknown for me and, although we want to enjoy the experience, you want to win any game against Australia. When the Aussies played a Twenty20 match in New Zealand earlier this year, some of the Kiwis were wearing wigs and retro kits, but we will be approaching the game in a serious manner.

"I wouldn't say winning is the be-all and end-all, but it is important that individuals perform well and take some confidence into the one-day series and the Ashes.

"It's great to have two players of Freddie and Kevin Pietersen's ability, and they are similar in one respect because they both hit the ball so hard.''

Flintoff has only appeared in two limited-overs internationals against Australia.

Yet Ponting, who surrendered Australia's 14-match winning run in one-day cricket against England in last year's Champions Trophy semi-final, said: "He's a key player. I'm not sure he would get in our side, but every team around the world would love a player of his ability.

"Along with a lot of the England guys, Flintoff has done exceptionally well at Test level over the past couple of years so we need to have a good look at him during the one-dayers and make sure we are really well prepared."

England warmed up for today by playing a BEER match on Saturday after bowling out Hampshire inside 20 overs in the short-lived main event to win by 153 runs.

Umpire Peter Willey and Hampshire captain Shane Warne wanted nothing to do with the 12-over nonsense which followed, and dressing room attendant Terry Brewer was roped in as an emergency square-leg umpire.

Fast bowlers Steve Harmison (ankle) and Simon Jones (knee) are available for selection today but may not be risked ahead of the NatWest Series, which starts on Thursday.

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source - mirror.co.uk

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