Ponting hoping for ‘distractions’

Ricky Ponting believes Andrew Flintoff’s pending retirement could favour Australia during the Ashes.

Flintoff will undergo a fitness test before the start of the second Test at Lord’s on Thursday, but has already announced his retirement from the game after the series. Ponting believes the fanfare over Flintoff could distract the English.

‘You can see the fans here are very passionate about watching Andrew Flintoff,’ said Ponting. ‘If they know this is his last chance to play here, his last chance to play Edgbaston, and last chance to play Headingley, I am sure there will be a bit of a circus around.

‘It could be good for us if that is the case. It could create some distractions but that is not for us to worry about.’

Ponting has been in similar situations when Steve Waugh exited the game and he said Flintoff’s announcement could be detrimental to English captain Andrew Strauss.

‘I have been in teams when it has happened and it can be a distraction not only for the person involved but for the captain as well.

‘They’re probably similar sort of figures in either side, culturally as well,’ he said. ‘Everyone in Australia loved everything about Steve Waugh, the way he played and the way he led the side.

‘We talked long and hard before that first Test match [in 2002-03] about what we could do to ensure it didn’t turn out to be a long farewell tour – but, as hard as we tried, sure enough it became very heavily focused on everything he did.’