Flintoff tips England to win
London - Andrew Flintoff believes England can do something that proved beyond him and win the Ashes in Australia.
The former all-rounder was England's captain in 2006 when, as now, they arrived in Australia as Ashes-holders following a closely fought series back at home.
But hopes Flintoff's men would become the first England team to win an Ashes series 'Down Under' since Mike Gatting's side back in 1986/87 quickly turned to dust, with Aussie bowling greats Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne enjoying a fairytale farewell to Test cricket in a 5-0 thrashing of 'The Poms'.
However, with the likes of Australia openers Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and star wicketkeeper/batsman Adam Gilchrist also no longer on the scene, Flintoff reckons an increasingly settled England side under the leadership of Andrew Strauss could have the edge.
"Australia are going through something of a transition and I just think England are the stronger of the two sides," Flintoff, speaking in a telephone interview from Dubai where he'd been the 18th man aboard Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton Trophy sailing race, told AFP.
"Someone like James Anderson is a much more experienced bowler now," added Flintoff of his former Lancashire and England seam bowling colleague.
"Kevin Pietersen is one of the world's best players and England have got a good captain in Andrew Strauss as well," the 2005 Ashes hero explained.
"They (Australia) will be hard to beat. You can throw the formbook out the window," said pace-bowling all-rounder Flintoff who in September finally admitted defeat in his struggle against a knee injury and retired from all cricket, having quit Tests after helping England regain the Ashes in 2009.
Flintoff is now forging a broadcasting career but unlike recent ex-England captains Mike Atherton, Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan, the 32-year-old Lancastrian has deliberately stayed away from television cricket commentary.
"I have been shooting programmes about extreme sport for ITV (a British terrestrial channel). I've been bull-running in Mexico and gone on the skeleton at Whistler."
Flintoff added: "I've also been making 'A League of Their Own' (a light-hearted sports quiz show for satellite television station Sky). I enjoy challenging myself in different directions."