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England collapse after Flintoff ruled out

  • Story Highlights
  • England decide against risking Andrew Flintoff for fourth Ashes Test
  • Star all-rounder has been struggling with a persistent knee injury
  • England collapse to 102 all out when play begins at Headingley
  • England bring in Steve Harmison with Australia calling up Stuart Clark
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(CNN) -- Andrew Flintoff was ruled out of the fourth Ashes Test and then watched as his side collapsed to 102 all out shortly after lunch at Headingley.

Andrew Flintoff could not shrug off a persistent knee problem to be fit for Headingley.

Andrew Flintoff could not shrug off a persistent knee problem to be fit for Headingley.

It was proving a disastrous first day for England, who decided against risking their star-all-rounder then were bowled out in less than 34 overs by a rampant Australian attack.

Peter Siddle took the final four wickets to go to lead the Australians with five wickets for 21.

Recalled Stuart Clark did the damage before lunch as he took three wickets with Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Johnson chipping in with a wicket apiece.

Only opener Alaistair Cook (30 and wicketkeeper Matt Prior (37 not out) made double figures for the hme side.

England captain Andrew Strauss, who won the toss and opted to bat, told Sky Sports that Flintoff's absence was a "big blow."

Strauss added: "Unfortunately, he was just not fit enough. We all feel for him."

Durham paceman Steve Harmison replaced Flintoff in the England team, but there was more drama before the match as Prior suffered a back spasm in the warmup.

There were fears he would not be able to play with Paul Collingwood set to deputize, but he was eventually pronounced fit to play and impressed with the bat in the England collapse.

Australia made two changes to the team which salvaged a draw at Edgbaston with seamer Clark coming in for off-spinner Nathan Hauritz and Brad Haddin returning as wicketkeeper for Graham Manou.

England are protecting a 1-0 lead in the series after their victory at Lord's in the second Test where Flintoff was named man-of-the-match for his bowling heroics.

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But the Lancashire star, while impressing with the bat at Edgbaston, was clearly struggling in the field on Monday's final day, leading to fears he would be unable to stand back to back Tests.

If Flintoff is fit, he is set to return to the England line-up for an emotional Test farewell at The Oval later this month.

All About Andrew StraussRicky PontingRyan SidebottomSteve HarmisonAustraliaUnited KingdomCricket

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