Broad backing Fred
Stuart Broad insists Andrew Flintoff's recent off-field antics were not a big problem within the squad.
Last Updated: 06/07/09 4:24pm
Stuart Broad insists Andrew Flintoff's recent off-field antics were not a big problem within the squad, and believes the all-rounder can reproduce his 2005 heroics to fire England to Ashes glory this summer.
Flintoff breached team rules when he missed the morning bus during England's recent trip to Belgium, but Broad insists it was not a major incident.
Reports of another Flintoff drinking binge have been played down, and Broad is more concerned with what Flintoff brings on the pitch.
"What happened with Freddie is certainly not a major thing within the team. It has been blown up outside of the team a bit," said Broad.
"It is certainly not something that has affected the team or that we are worried about. Australia will be wary of Freddie after 2005. He is the sort of player and character that any Test side in the world would want in their team.
"He's a crucial member of our side and brings a lot of firepower to our bowling attack and we are delighted to have him back.
"The side has done well without him in the last five or six months but having Freddie back gives us a huge confidence."
The Ashes begin on Wednesday at Cardiff and Broad believes Flintoff can again be a key figure, after looking good in his comeback from another injury.
"He looks like he is firing on all cylinders," Broad added. "[In the warm-up game] against Warwickshire he bowled very quickly and we're looking forward to seeing the same again in Cardiff.
"I think it will be in Australia's minds what happened four years ago but more importantly it will be in Freddie's mind. He will have a lot of confidence from what he did then and a lot of belief he will be able to do exactly the same now.
"He is a man to be feared because he is a world-class bowler and world-class batsman."
Steve Harmison missed out on the squad despite being at his hostile best for the Lions against Australia, but Broad says they will not overdo it when trying to repeat the two short balls Harmison used to get rid of opener Phillip Hughes.
"We have seen the footage and the way Hughes has got out. We have our plans to him and will be looking to put them into practice as much as we can.
"Steve Harmison might have put a few doubts in his mind and he gave a couple of their batsmen a good working over. It was good to see him bowling so well and so ferociously.
"But one thing we can't look past is that Hughes has got a great Test record. It is crucial we don't get carried away with using that tactic at him.
"Those deliveries would have been too good for most left-handers in the game. They were vicious deliveries from a bloke bowling at 90mph who is 6ft 7in tall."
Although Broad acknowledged Harmison's return to form, he thinks Durham team-mate Graham Onions deserves his place.
"We know Steve is a world-class bowler when he is firing but you have to look at Graham Onions' record this year.
"He came into the Test squad against the West Indies and bowled fantastically well and picked up five wickets in an innings.
"He deserves to be in the squad which has been winning and doing well. We are very confident and looking forward to getting going on Wednesday."