Special Correspondent

SG ball not too different from Duke or Kookaburra, says Flintoff

Mumbai: Reverse swing has been the flavour of the Test series against Australia, and England’s linchpin Andrew Flintoff has kept himself abreast of it.

By the time the first Test begins at Motera in December, Flintoff would have journeyed across India playing the seven one-dayers, learnt a few more tricks and become a little more adept in making the reverse swing work.

When told that Australians Neil Harvey and Ian Chappell feel that there is no such thing as reverse swing, Flintoff said, “It (reverse swing) is an asset if it happens. Khan (Zaheer) and Sharma (Ishant) have used it well. On abrasive wickets like these, it is something which will come in.”

Flintoff added, “the SG ball isn’t really a factor. It wasn’t a problem for us. But the Indian bowlers have used reverse swing well, are skilled and have all basics covered.

“The SG ball isn’t too different from the Duke or the Kookaburra. The Kookaburra does go soft a bit quicker. The SG ball has a more pronounced seam for a longer period of time. It’s not something that we’re going to worry too much about,” he said.

“India possibly are the best team in the world at the moment. From my point of view and from the team’s point there is a desire within the group to do well.

Different challenges

“On each tour you have different challenges and India has got a lot of them. But if you think about the distractions like the IPL, endorsements, media attention and stuff, then you are going to struggle.

“India has its own culture and you’ve got to embrace it. When you play ODIs in India, you play in front of big crowds. I still remember the experience of 2001-02 when I played at the Eden Gardens in front of 100,000. It’s something which is to be enjoyed.

“It’s a shame Sachin won’t be there for the first three games. I enjoy playing against him. He’s the greatest I’ve ever bowled to. You want to play against people like that. You want to test yourself. He is someone I’ve enjoyed watching and growing up.

“I actually wanted Ganguly who is retiring to score a hundred at Nagpur,” he said.

Ian Bell, who fell four times to Zaheer Khan in last year’s Test series in England, paid handsome tributes to the left arm seamer. Bell said, “Zaheer (18 wickets in the series) was exceptional. It’s one of the best I have faced in my career. He thoroughly deserved the man of the series award.”

Denying width

When asked how different he was from Australia’s Mitchell Johnson, left-hand seamer Ryan Sidebottom said, “I have to focus on line and length and keep it close to the off-stump in order to deny width.

“There would be variations too with change of angles using the crease and finding the correct length on Indian pitches. This is my first major tour to India, though I have trained at the academy in Chennai,” he said.

Off-spinner Graeme Swann Jason was delighted to see Jason Krejza pick up an eight-wicket haul at Nagpur. “I saw the match on television and what it (Krejza’s success) says is that there will be reward for good finger spinners.”

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