Ashes 2013: Andrew Flintoff warns England over pressure
By Stephan ShemiltBBC Sport
First Test: England v Australia
Venue: Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Date: 10-14 July
Start time: 11:00 BST
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 Long Wave and via the BBC iPlayer Radio app, BBC Sport website & BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on BBC Sport website, app & mobile devices
Andrew Flintoff has warned England that their ability to cope with being favourites in the Ashes will determine the outcome of the series.
England have won three of the last four Ashes series and begin the defence of the urn at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.
"Historically, England have not been good at being the front-runners," Ashes winner Flintoff told BBC Sport.
"They have got to treat it as any other Test match. They just need to go out and play."
Former all-rounder Flintoff was part of the England side that
regained the Ashes
after an 18-year wait in 2005, but used their subsequent defeat in Pakistan as an example of the team not coping well with the tag of favourites.
"They will be trying to take the pressure off themselves and stay relaxed," said 35-year-old Flintoff, who retired from Test cricket after helping England
regain the Ashes
"Pressure might hinder them, so it's all about how they react."
In contrast, little is expected from Australia, who have endured a turbulent build-up to the series.
Batsman David Warner was banned after punching England's Joe Root in a Birmingham bar and coach Mickey Arthur was replaced by Darren Lehmann, while there are doubts over the fitness of captain Michael Clarke, who has a long-standing back injury.
"There's no pressure on Australia," added Flintoff, who scored 3,845 runs and took 226 wickets in 79 Tests for England.
"Lehmann taking over was a good move. He's a likeable bloke and the players will want to do well for him."
Clarke averages 66.10 with the bat in his 24 Tests as Australia captain and Flintoff believes the 32-year-old must have a good series with the bat if the Aussies are to regain the Ashes.
"Clarke has to have success with the bat and as leader," he said. "He's got a tough job, because he hasn't got the luxury of the quality players his predecessors as captain had."
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