We want Freddie to play, insists Australia's North

AUSTRALIA batsman Marcus North insists the tourists are rooting for England&rsquo;s Andrew Flintoff to be fit for the rest of the Ashes &ndash; because they want the satisfaction of beating a full-strength side.<br /><br />All-rounder Flintoff is a doubt for the fourth Test, which starts at Headingley on Friday, with the ongoing knee problem that has caused him to quit Test cricket at the end of the series.<br /><br />Australia captain Ricky Ponting has been accused of glorifying in Flintoff&rsquo;s deteriorating fitness, after remarking that the 2005 hero&rsquo;s condition had &ldquo;gone downhill pretty quickly&rdquo; during the match.<br /><br />But North, whose battling 96 helped Australia secure a draw in the third Test at Edgbaston on Monday, says beating England without the inspiration behind their second Test triumph would be a tainted victory.<br /><br />&ldquo;We want to play the best side we can play against when we play any other country. We have already seen the impact that Andrew Flintoff has had on this series,&rdquo; said North.<br /><br />&ldquo;He had a quiet game with the ball but he had that explosive innings with the bat. We want to walk away, taking the Ashes back home, beating a full-strength England side.&rdquo;<br /><br />Spiky verbal exchanges have been an increasing presence as the series has gone on, but North firmly believes they add to the occasion.<br /><br />He added: &ldquo;The banter on the pitch is great. Both teams are playing extremely hard Test cricket. We are playing for the urn.&rdquo;