'Pietersen's absence a huge blow'

Ace batsmans injury may give Aussies a boost, says Flintoff

'Pietersen's absence a huge blow'


Pietersen will be sidelined for six weeks after surgery on an Achilles injury which had troubled him throughout the first two Tests.

Now Andrew Strauss’s side face the prospect of heading into the third Test at Edgbaston next week on a low despite their impressive Lord’s performance. Flintoff, who is struggling with injury problems of his own, conceded Pietersen’s injury may give the Australians a major boost.

“He’s a massive influence on our team so it’s going to make it tougher for us - but he’s been in pain,” Flintoff said. “He will be greatly missed and we wish him well -- he’ll be gutted.”

“He’s performed well in the past and we expected him to in the next three matches but he’ll come back, he’s young and I’m sure he’s got a few more Ashes series in him yet.
“If (Australia captain) Ricky Ponting was injured you are quite happy not bowling at him -- and I think Australia will be thinking the same about Kevin.

“It means a lot playing in the Ashes and I fully expect he’ll be coming along to watch a few of the games once he’s back on his feet,” said Flintoff.

Warwickshire batsman Ian Bell is widely expected to replace Pietersen, although Owais Shah could also earn a call-up.

Only 24 hours before his operation, Pietersen had spoken of his determination to follow Flintoff’s example and play through the pain barrier.

Despite pain from a knee injury that has forced him to announce he will retire from Test cricket after the Ashes, Flintoff took five wickets in the second innings to kill off Ricky Ponting’s men.

Pietersen wanted to perform similar heroics but has been forced to accept defeat.
“As an England cricketer the Ashes are the pinnacle of the game so I’m absolutely devastated to be missing the rest of this series,” he said.

“Unfortunately the injury has recently deteriorated. To leave a winning dressing room at this time is heart breaking but it wouldn’t be fair to the team or myself to continue given the severity of the injury.

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