London, July 23 (ANI): England off-spinner Graeme Swann has described the exit of star batsman Kevin Pietersen from the remaining three Tests of the ongoing Ashes series as a major blow for the hosts, but believes that having all-rounder Andrew Flintoff will be enough to win back the Ashes.
In article for The Sun, Swann recalls his over two-decade-long association with Flintoff, and says that he still retains the power and skill of yore to tear through the Australian batting line up.
"I've known Andrew Flintoff since he was 10 and he could do incredible things even then. He was the only 10-year-old I've ever seen with the strength to send down a short one. Twenty years later, the Aussies discovered all about that power and skill as Freddie tore into their batsmen in the Lord's Test. Now, Freddie is going to prove even more important in our effort to win back The Ashes," said Swann.
Describing the victory at Lords to go one up in the series as fantastic, Swann said: "I'll struggle in my career to have a greater moment than taking the wicket that clinched England's first Ashes victory at the home of cricket for 75 years."
"Freddie was immense. Everyone on the field and in the ground was rooting for him to take that fifth wicket in his final Test at Lord's - and he refused to let go of the ball until he got it. When he came off his short run and bowled Peter Siddle, it was one of those great moments in sport. I felt privileged to be on the field. For him to bowl like that with a wonky knee was extraordinary," he added.
"It was brilliant to stand at slip and see the ball flying through - it was the best place to be because I was so close and able to appreciate the speed and deadly accuracy," he said.
Swann said that Flintoff's decision to retire was correct as he couldn't see him spending the rest of his life in rehab.
Flintoff, he said, was a great bloke and fun to be around. (ANI)