ODI defeat has no bearing on Ashes: Flintoff

Jaipur, October 22:

England captain Andrew Flintoff brushed off suggestions his side will be under pressure going into next month’s Ashes series after losing to Australia in the Champions Trophy tournament here. England’s chances of qualifying for the semi-finals virtually ended on Saturday when they crashed to a six-wicket defeat against their Ashes rivals in the day-night game.

This was their second successive defeat in the four-team Group A. They will now clash with the West Indies in their last league game at Ahmedabad on October 28. India and the West Indies have one win apiece from one game, and Australia one from two matches.

“We took this match in isolation, as a must-win game for both the sides to stay in the tournament,” said Flintoff. “One thing in the build-up to the game was people trying to link it to the Ashes series, but the Ashes start (in Brisbane next month) when we go to Australia.”

Flintoff conceded his young side needed to improve considerably if they wanted to give a good account of themselves in coming months. “It is an exciting time in one-day cricket... first Australia and then the World Cup (in the Caribbean next year). But we need to improve,” said Flintoff. “It is a young side. We have to step up as a team if we have the aspirations of doing well later in this winter.”

Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he was not worried about ace fast bowler Glenn McGrath’s indifferent performance against England. The Aussie paceman gave away 27 runs in his first four overs before coming back strongly to finish with 2-36 off nine overs as a first-change bowler.

“You don’t end up having a lot of concerns about one of the greats of the game that Glenn is. He delivers an honest performance every time he takes the field,” said Ponting. “He is fulfilling a different role at the moment — bowling first change, something he has done for only half-a-dozen times in his career. So he is probably still learning the role.”

Ponting lauded pacemen Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson, and middle-order batsman Martyn, saying the trio did a commendable job.