Vaughan expects more Flintoff fireworks

CARDIFF: Michael Vaughan believes Andrew Flintoff's latest brush with authority can work in England's favour when they begin their bid to regain the Ashes when the first Test starts here Wednesday.

Vaughan was England's captain when they regained the Ashes in 2005, with all-rounder Flintoff playing a starring role as they won their first Test series against Australia since 1986/87.

But injuries have seen Flintoff, England's captain when they were thrashed 5-0 in Australia in 2006/07, fail to recapture that form while he has blotted his copybook with several off-field incidents.

The most recent was during England's pre-Ashes camp to Belgium when he missed the team bus for a trip to World War I battlefield sites, but Vaughan, who retired from all cricket last week, said he believed the hosts could turn that to their advantage.

"In a funny kind of way, what happened last week would have been a positive thing for him and the team," said Vaughan, speaking at the launch of Virgin's 'fifty50' charity initiative on Tuesday.

"Freddie (Flintoff) is very motivated and I'm really looking forward to him emulating what he achieved in 2005.

"He hasn't played that much cricket of late but of the cricket I've seen he's definitely bowling with that intensity and that pace and he's going to be a real threat.

"I just want to see him get five-fors (five wickets in an innings), I want to see him really rip through the Australians and get big wicket hauls and if he does that his batting will look after itself because he will be going into bat with a lot of confidence."

Vaughan, who has yet to decide on his post-cricket career despite being widely tipped to become a broadcaster on the sport, said he would have no problems being a spectator in Cardiff.

"I think this is going to be the easy one (to watch)," he said. "The last one was the most difficult because I'd missed it with injury and I'd had nine months previously in the gym and tried my hardest to get fit and it didn't come off.

"This is probably the first Ashes series for four that I will be able to sit back and enjoy because the other two I either played in or I was injured for, so there's no real pressure on me at all."

Meanwhile Vaughan backed current England captain Andrew Strauss, who played four years ago, to match his 2005 achievement.

"Winning the Ashes is almost like winning a major in golf, it's the pinnacle of being an England cricket captain," said Vaughan. "There's the World Cup and then there's the Ashes, it really is that big.

"As a captain you always get remembered for what you do against Australia and that's just the way it is.

"I'm hoping Straussy has a great time and the team play very well because I do think we've got a great chance of beating Australia."