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Flintoff given a thumbs-up

ANDREW FLINTOFF&rsquo;S decision to refuse an England contract was yesterday defended by the Professional Cricketers&rsquo; Association.<br /><br />The injury-plagued all-rounder turned down an incremental one-day contract from the England and Wales Cricket Board on Tuesday &ndash; a decision which effectively offers himself as a freelance player in Twenty20 competitions across the world.<br /><br />The decision came as a blow to England chiefs, who still see Flintoff as a major part of their limited-over plans, but PCA chief executive Sean Morris says the 31-year-old should take advanatge of the &ldquo;small window left in his career&rdquo;.<br /><br />&ldquo;In Andrew&rsquo;s case, it&rsquo;s a slightly unique example because over the last 10 years he&rsquo;s given his all to English cricket,&rdquo; Morris said. &ldquo;Now he&rsquo;s reached a point in his career where he needs to make personal decisions that are best for him and his family.<br /><br />&ldquo;He is probably in a unique position because he&rsquo;s built his international value through performing well for England. As a result he can gain rewards for playing in Sydney or Mumbai that most other players can&rsquo;t.&rdquo;<br /><br />Morris, however, doesn&rsquo;t believe any of England&rsquo;s other stars, such as Kevin Pietersen, will follow Flintoff&rsquo;s path. &ldquo;KP would be very much focusing on playing for England,&rdquo; he added. &ldquo;If you speak to the current crop of England players, they still believe representing their country is the No1 priority.&rdquo;<br /><br />Meanwhile, Flintoff&rsquo;s one-day deputy Luke Wright has been ruled out for the remainder of England&rsquo;s series with Australia with a toe injury.<br /><br />The Sussex man will now be assessed ahead of next week&rsquo;s Champions Trophy in South Africa.<br /><br />Hampshire&rsquo;s Dimitri Mascarenhas will continue to deputise for today&rsquo;s 6th ODI at Trent Bridge and Sunday&rsquo;s final game in Durham.<br />