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Flintoff guarantees England Ashes victory

05 October 2017

Cricket Network

Cricket Network

Cook, Anderson, Root and co. assured of retaining the urn this summer according to 2005 Ashes hero

Andrew Flintoff has ramped up the Ashes rhetoric by declaring England's current Test side the best "we've ever had" and that "it's not a case of England winning - it's by how many".

Speaking three weeks before England's 16-player squad for the Magellan Ashes series flies out for Australia, Flintoff says his former side's hopes of retaining the urn are all but assured.

"It's probably the best England team we've ever had" the 79-Test veteran told the BBC.

"We've got Jimmy Anderson, who is England's best-ever bowler; Alastair Cook, England's best-ever batter. 

"And you throw in the likes of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, who (are) fantastic - it's exciting times.

"It's not a case of England winning, it's by how many. I believe in that side.

"It's the type of side you'd want to be involved in, from the coach and the captain down. I think England will have a good winter."

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Flintoff's comments come a week after his former national teammate Kevin Pietersen labelled England's Ashes squad "horrendous", with the inclusion of tried-and-tested batsmen Gary Balance and James Vince widely criticised in the UK press.

Questions linger over the make-up of their top-order and while opener Cook and skipper Root are two of the finest players in their positions in Test cricket, Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood believes there are holes elsewhere in England's line-up.

"They've got a couple of experienced guys at the top with Root and Cook, but there's obviously some gaps there which are well documented," Hazlewood told Sky Sports Radio on Wednesday.

"The extra pressure falls on Bairstow and (allrounder Ben) Stokes, if he ends up coming, and senior bowlers. 

"There's a few gaps there in the top-order that we can hopefully exploit and put that extra pressure on those experienced guys. 

"Stokes adds some balance to the team but whether he comes out or not is out of our control."

But England's squad announcement and discussion over how they plan to piece together their XI has largely been overshadowed by the ongoing controversy over Ben Stokes.

The allrounder was arrested following a night out on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm in the early hours of last Monday, with video footage published by The Sun showing a person alleged to be Stokes throwing punches and knocking a man to the ground.

WATCH: Alleged footage of Stokes' Bristol brawl

Flintoff was keen to avoid speculating on whether Stokes, who has been suspended "until further notice" by the England and Wales Cricket Board, will make the journey to Australia this summer but said it was "flattering" to be compared to the 26-year-old. 

"Obviously there's a few things going on at the minute," Flintoff said. "I've only seen what everybody else has seen and it's something that's being investigated so I'm not commenting on that

"He's a fantastic cricketer and it's flattering when he's compared to you. He's such an exciting talent but so too are many of the England side."

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21