Leicester (UK), June 18 (ANI): England will get a massive boost with the return of all-rounder Andrew Flintoff to the Test squad ahead of the Ashes series, claims Australian captain Ricky Ponting.
Talismanic all-rounder Flintoff, 31, is recovering from a knee surgery. He was due to play in Lancashire's clash with Hampshire on Wednesday, but rain washed out play.
According to The Sun, should he come through the four-day match unscathed, Freddie will then be a shoo-in for the First Test of the Ashes series in Cardiff on July 8.In the last Ashes series played in England, Flintoff put in herculean performances that saw him take 24 wickets and score 402 runs in the famous 2-1 win.
Aussie skipper Ponting knows a repeat would spell huge problems for his side.
"Everyone in world cricket knows what he is capable of," Ponting said.
Another injury risk for England is Kevin Pietersen, whose unpredictable Achilles problem could see him wake up on match day unable to walk.
The pre-series banter to date has seen Ponting claim he will target England captain Andrew Strauss. But the Aussies know Pietersen, 29 on Saturday week, is the main threat to them.
His maiden Test ton sealed the 2005 Ashes and he has since gone on to smash 15 more, with his Test average currently 50.49.
Ponting admits removing Pietersen early on a regular basis could swing the series their way.
"The team that has the most contributors across all five Test matches will be the winners," he added. (ANI)