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England cut Hick and Flintoff loose


LONDON, March 29 (AFP) - Under-achieving Graeme Hick was facing an uncertain international future here Thursday after missing out on an England cricket contract.

Hick and Andrew Flintoff were the most notable absentees from from the list of 12 players who have been centrally contracted by England for the forthcoming Test series against Pakistan and Australia.

The 12 includes 10 members of the side who won the third Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo earlier this month, plus Yorkshire pace-bowler Matthew Hoggard and Derbyshire all-rounder Dominic Cork.

Hick has paid the price for disappointing performances during the winter tour of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and Flintoff's persistent injury problems appear to have cost him his place.

Glamorgan spinner Robert Croft also fails to make the 12, with Hoggard and Cork's inclusion down to the seamer-friendly conditions for the home Test series against Pakistan and Australia.

"In choosing these 12 players, we were naturally keen to retain the nucleus of the team that has served us so well over the past year and won four successive Test series," England chairman of selectors David Graveney said.

"But we also need to take account of the different conditions the team are likely to face this summer and the inclusion of Matthew Hoggard and Dominic Cork will strengthen competition for places in the seam-bowling department.

"Dominic's inclusion will, however, be subject to him proving his match fitness with Derbyshire in the early season as a result of the back injury he sustained in Pakistan."

"We have decided not to contract Robert Croft as we do not expect to field two spinners in every Test match this summer," he said.

"But he produced excellent performances with bat and ball in Sri Lanka and remains very much in our thoughts for both this summer's matches and next winter."





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