|Player:||SK Warne, A Flintoff, KP Pietersen, AJ Strauss|
|Event:||Australia in British Isles 2009|
DateLine: 23rd June 2009
Australian spin legend Shane Warne has said that the fitness of English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff could decide the fate of the Ashes.
Flintoff suffered no immediate ill effects when he returned to first-class action for Lancashire against Durham earlier this month. This just six weeks after surgery on a knee injury picked up playing for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League.
The 31-year-old though was ruled out of the World Twenty20 by the knee problem, is still in a race to return to full fitness in time for this summer's series which begins in Cardiff on July 8.
"I think Flintoff is one of the keys to the Ashes. It will be crucial to have Flintoff in the England squad,” Warne was quoted as saying to PA sport.
"I still think they will have a chance without him, but with Flintoff in the squad it is much stronger. What he did in 2005 was pretty special."
Flintoff was the key protagonist in English win four years back when the tall all-rounder claimed 24 wickets and racked up 402 runs inspiring England to a 2-1 success.
Warne also said that the contribution of his former Hampshire team-mate Kevin Pietersen would also be one of the key factors to make or break England's chances.
Pietersen is also struggling for his fitness after his Achilles injury flared up again and he had earlier admitted that he may not be able to play if the problem flares up again.
"And I have to say Kevin Pietersen is really important as well. They need Pietersen for sure.
"Pietersen, Flintoff and (captain Andrew) Strauss are the guys (for the Australians to be wary of). I would like to have them playing for the Rajasthan Royals (Warne's IPL team)."
When the former leggie was asked who he thinks could be the stars of the upcoming series, he singled out three fellow countrymen without hesitation namely Peter Siddle, Nathan Hauritz and Phil Hughes.