Ponting says Flintoff farewell could distract England ahead of Ashes decider

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London, Aug.19 (ANI): Australian captain Ricky Ponting believes that all rounder Andrew Flintoff's farewell could distract England from its quest of regaining the Ashes after nearly four years.

"It's going to be interesting to see how it all pans out," the Courier Mail quoted Ponting, as saying as both teams prepare for the deciding fifth and final Test at The Oval tomorrow.

According to the paper, there is a growing feeling among the wider English cricket community that, as important as this Test is, there's an attempt to make it all about Flintoff.

There was always that danger after he announced his retirement from Test cricket before the second Test at Lord's, then took the pose of a conquering hero every time he claimed a wicket during his match-winning second innings five-wicket haul.

Flintoff has not taken a wicket since, limping through the rain-ruined third Test at Edgbaston on his damaged right knee, although he batted well, before being controversially left out of the fourth Test at Headingley, which England lost in less than three days.

"I'd imagine (Andrew) Strauss and the senior players in the team would be trying to guard against that and make sure it's not all about him," Ponting said of Flintoff's farewell.

"It was an interesting time to announce his retirement. When he did I felt there was some other stuff going on behind closed doors regarding the retirement. That's up to England to worry about," Ponting said.

Flintoff is certainly not the player he was in 2005. Apart from the hour or two of crowd-roaring nostalgia at Lord's, he has failed to trouble the Australians. So far this series he has seven wickets at an average of almost 49 in three Tests.

"If he happens to play the game, we have to make sure we play him well, as we have so far for the majority of the series," said Ponting. (ANI)

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