Flintoff offered Indian fortune

By PETER HAYTER

Last updated at 07:34 04 February 2008


Andrew Flintoff has been

offered a six-figure payday for

six weeks' work by the billionaires

of the Indian Premier

League.

But England's iconic

all-rounder has turned down an

approach from the IPL, who are paying

Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist upwards

of £400,000 for the inaugural competition

in April, and is determined not to let

anything interfere with his efforts to make

a full comeback to international cricket

following his fourth ankle operation.

Flintoff

With the IPL's coffers bulging fit to burst

under the strain of the $1.3billion it has

raised from the recent sale of TV rights

and team franchises, there were fears that

Flintoff, 30, would be made an offer he

would find impossible to refuse.

The Lancastrian is set to join up

with the England Lions in Baroda

a week today as the next stage in

his rehabilitation after surgery

by Dutch specialist Niek van Dijk

in Amsterdam last October.

He will play no part in the Lions'

attempts to become the first

overseas team to win the Duleep

Trophy, and will then move to

Mumbai to join the Lancashire

Academy squad for a batting

clinic, prior to the county's preseason

tournament in Dubai.

The fact that he will spend more

than a fortnight in India has

increased concerns that the IPL

organisers will approach Flintoff

with an offer that would outdo his

current England contract.

But Flintoff — who has so far

batted but not bowled as part of a

programme carefully designed

to make sure that when he plays

he is absolutely ready to do so —

has insisted to friends he has no

intention of taking the bait, no matter how tempting.

All his

focus is on reproducing the fitness

and form which helped England

to their 2005 Ashes victory.

"The only thing I'm interested in

is getting fit to play for

England again," said Flintoff,

whose rehab programme has

included six weeks in the US

and 10 days in Cape Town with

physio Dave Roberts.

"Although I want to come back

and play competitive cricket, I want to be in form and not

scratching around. All these ops

have been tough and frustrating

and I guess I could have bowled

at 75mph and got through, but

that's not me. I want to bowl at

90mph again and be a proper allrounder.

That's why I had the

operation."

In New Zealand, England's

one-day skipper Paul Collingwood

revealed he has had

two cortisone injections to

ensure his fitness to lead

them in the upcoming

five-match series against

the Kiwis, preceded by

two Twenty20 internationals

this week.

Collingwood hurt

his right shoulder

while attempting

to take a catch

off his own

bowling in the

first one-day

international

against Sri Lanka in Dambulla

three months ago, and there were

concerns he might have to miss

the early matches in New

Zealand, prompting speculation

over his replacement as captain.

But he oversaw a comfortable

win in the first warm-up against

Canterbury in Christchurch

yesterday, bowling three overs and

running out their best batsman,

Johan Myburg, for 87.

James Anderson starred with the

ball, taking five for 47 as Canterbury

fell well short of England's

295 for six.

Luke Wright (pictured)

pressed his case for opening in

the shortest form of the game

with 42 off 15 balls, while Alastair

Cook hit 51, Kevin Pietersen 48

and Ian Bell held the innings

together with 79 off 89 balls.

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