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Flintoff baffled by Broad walk talk
Former England captain Andrew Flintoff cannot understand the controversy that has engulfed Stuart Broad but has backed his old team-mate to shine in the forthcoming Ashes series Down Under.
Broad has been under fire ever since he stood his ground despite clearly edging an Ashton Agar delivery that was caught at first slip in the first Test between England and Australia at Trent Bridge in July.
His refusal to walk led to accusations of "blatant cheating" from Australia coach Darren Lehmann, who also called on the Australian public to "get stuck into him" this winter - comments that earned the 43-year-old a fine for breaching the International Cricket Council's code of conduct.
The matter was brought back into focus on Monday when Broad insisted he had no regrets, believing England may have lost a Test they won by 14 runs had he walked off.
Broad's stance was supported by two-time Ashes winner Flintoff, who would have criticised the Nottinghamshire man if he accepted he was out before waiting for the umpire's decision.
"I can't believe that people have got on their high horses about it, players, ex-players, everyone. It happens every day in county cricket, every day in professional cricket," said Flintoff.
"What are you going to do if a bowler got an lbw decision and it wasn't out? Are you going to call him back?
"It's part and parcel of the game. If I'd have been in the dressing room and Stuart Broad had walked and the umpire hadn't given him out, I'd have had a right go at him."
Broad is likely to be public enemy number one when the first Ashes Test gets under way in Brisbane on November 21.
But with Australia champing at the bit to avenge a 3-0 series defeat in England, Flintoff has backed Broad to silence the doubters.
Flintoff believes the 27-year-old was unsure of his role in the team, but is now finding his groove - pointing out a match-winning spell of six for 50 in the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street - after playing to his strengths.
"Broad's a very decent cricketer. I think in the past few months in his bowling, he's figured out a way in which balls suit him," said Flintoff, who scored 3,845 runs and took 226 wickets in 79 Tests.
"He tried to have this role which was the worst one ever: the enforcer was just nonsense.
"He bowls nicely at mid-80s and can swing it, that's his strength, stick to it.
"I think (in the past) he's tried to bowl quick and he's tried other things, but we've seen in the summer like at Chester-le-Street he bowled to his strengths.
"Don't get carried away, don't try and beat the crowd, don't try and beat the press, and don't get dragged into a slanging match with the opposition.
"The best way to shut them up is when they're walking back with no runs under their belts."
Flintoff also had encouraging words for England captain Alastair Cook, who along with Broad sat out a practice session at Floreat Oval in Western Australia as the tourists trained ahead of their opening three-day game against a Western Australia Chairman's XI at the WACA later this week.
Opener Cook scored just 277 runs in 10 innings against Australia this year and his captaincy was called into the question by former leg-spinner Shane Warne among others.
Yet Flintoff, speaking in his role as an ambassador for William Hill, said: "England won. Alastair Cook got criticism for his captaincy and he won 3-0. You had Shane Warne and the likes of that taking the mickey and having a go at him on the TV.
"You think 'hang on a minute. How many Tests has he won as captain?' He's 26/27, he's doing an amazing job."