Worcester, England:England fast bowler Steve Harmison is certain his friend Andrew Flintoff will rebound from his disciplinary issues this week in time for the Ashes.
Flintoff, England's leading all-rounder, was reprimanded by team officials and heavily criticized in media after he missed the bus that was taking the team to a war memorial site in Flanders, Belgium on Saturday while on a team-bonding trip.
Harmison said on Friday that Flintoff will not be affected by the backlash when the Ashes series starts in Cardiff on Wednesday.
"Andrew is a fantastic all-round cricketer and is somebody that this country needs to do well because of what he stands for in this country," Harmison said after the third day of the England Lions' final match against Australia. "He is a larger-than-life character, and if he gets on a roll he will take 18,000 people with him at Cardiff next week.
"A lot of the stuff that has been said about him this week is untrue. We keep kicking our big sportsmen and it is horrendous why we keep kicking these people."
Flintoff was man of the series in 2005 when England beat Australia for the first time since 1986-87. He was also captain of England when they subsequently lost the Ashes 5-0 in 2006-07.
"In a few weeks time, if he is holding a stump in the air after winning the Ashes, we will all be clapping our hands and saying Freddie's brilliant," Harmison said. "Andrew knows that and I'm sure he will be trying his heart out to beat Australia next week."