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Injuries take their toll on England's lionheart

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Anna Thompson - BBC Sport journalist | 16:19 UK time, Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Andrew Flintoff's announcement he would be retiring from Test cricket was about as shocking as Cristiano Ronaldo's summer move from Manchester United to Real Madrid in its timing.

At the age of 31, England's talismanic all-rounder has had to admit his injury-ravaged body cannot stand up to the rigours of the five-day game and, if he wanted to continue playing the sport he loved at the highest level, he had to make a harsh decision.

He has opted for the shorter form of the game, one-day internationals and Twenty20 matches in the lucrative Indian Premier League once this Ashes series has finished.

Flintoff believes he could continue playing for England for the next four years and beyond, if his body lets him.

As Lord's was busily preparing for the Ashes Test, putting the finishing touches to advertising hoardings, some ironically featuring Flintoff for a well-known men's deodorant, a hastily-arranged news conference was being set up.

In the end Flintoff was almost half an hour late meeting the throngs of journalists who had packed into the Brian Johnston Film Theatre inside the Lord's Museum.

But the burly Lancastrian looked like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders by announcing the news.

He was in a philosophical mood rather than looking emotional, a complete contrast to former England captain Michael Vaughan, who was extremely tearful when he announced he was quitting the Test arena.

In the 13-minute news conference, kept tight by England and Wales Cricket Board media manager Andrew Walpole, Flintoff spoke about how he had been mulling over the decision for a while and had not just thought suddenly about quitting overnight.

However with his problematic knee, which had been operated on at the start of the year, flaring up again during the drawn first Ashes Test at Cardiff and needing pain-killing injections, Flintoff decided it was time to listen to his body.

"I've been a professional rehabber for two years," he said. "There is relief in announcing it but sadness in acknowledging it."

Flintoff had sought advice from legendary England all-rounder and his childhood hero Sir Ian Botham, Vaughan, Ashley Giles and his physio Dave Roberts. He said the England squad had known about the situation for a few weeks.

Andrew Flintoff

But he is desperate to go out on a high and is aiming to play in the final four Tests against Australia this summer, "I'd do anything to play in those next four," he said although he could not even guarantee if he would be fit enough to start on Thursday.

Flintoff's larger than life character and his heroics during the 2005 Ashes win, in which he won the Man of the Series award for taking a staggering 24 wickets and amassing 402 runs, endeared him to the British public.

Most even saw the funny side when he was "worse for wear" at the subsequent official celebration parade through London.

But his actual Test statistics - 76 Tests so far, 219 wickets and 3708 runs at an average of 31.69 were hardly the most impressive as he aimed to become the best England all-rounder since Botham.

But Flintoff, who can barely remember his stats, is more about blood and guts passion and inspiring his team-mates, and scaring the hell out of the opposition, rather than playing for his average.

Cricket has been in his blood and as a baby his mother Susan used to wheel him around the boundary ropes in his pram while his dad Colin was playing club cricket in Preston.

He flourished in the game despite it not being on the curriculum at his school, Ribbleton Hall High.

His cricket potential was obvious at a young age and he made his debut for St Annes fourth XI at the age of 13 and the first team a year later, becoming the youngest player in the Northern League.

But even as a youngster he struggled with injury and at the age of 16 had to stop bowling for a number of months because of back problems.

He made his Lancashire debut in 1995 at the age 18 and played his first Test for England, against South Africa at Trent Bridge, in 1998.

But injuries started to rear their ugly head on his 6ft 4ins frame again in 1999 when he broke his foot during a Test in Cape Town and his career has been blighted by them ever since, having undergone four ankle operations and a knee operation.

Flintoff said he "can't grumble too much" about his Test career which spanned 11 years after claiming he was "rubbish" when he first starting playing at the highest level - a remark which drew loud laughs from the journalists.

England are certainly going to miss this no nonsense northern lionheart who played like a man possessed in the Test arena.

But he believes if his body holds up, his best cricket is yet to come - what a scary thought for the opposition.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I think Flintoff has made the right decision here both for himself and in a way for the England test side. im sure he'd be much happier being able to play as many ODI's and 2020 games as, instead of patches of the two and the odd test series. I say itd good for England in a way, obviously he will be a huge loss, but it will allow the test team to be more settled, without makeshift lineups considering how FLintoff will fit back into them on a regular basis. This said though i think it is a real shame, but as i have said Flintoff needs to do whats right for him, and seeing him appear regularly in the shorter formats is much better than the constant injuries!

  • Comment number 2.

    His aggressive attitude is more suited to ODIs and T20 anyhow, and he can now focus on spending the autumn of his career as a straight-up shorter-game specialist. It seems as though he gave this decision a lot of thought too, and I think he's come to the right one.

    This will also help the selectors in future, as pointed out above.

  • Comment number 3.

    So, if Flintoff's personal stats are 'hardly the most impressive as he aimed to become the best England all-rounder since Botham' and he's been at the helm of England's worst white-wash since the 1920s and he's played in all of how many of England's 15 wins in 46 tests since end of The Ashes 2005, what exactly is there to miss?
    Andrew 'Fredalo' Flintoff - a lot of talent but just like Ricky Hatton and most other English sportsmen, too busy getting drunk to be considered any good.

  • Comment number 4.

    Good luck for his future. Yes he had a big injury list since 1999 and numerous operations. But he is so called all rounder, barring the 2005 Ashes he had nothing done to his called potential. Had he played for other countries he wouldnt have survived for this long when people compare to other good or great players he is no where near to that club his statistics will show it, players having less than 4000 runs each in both forms of game for the last 11 years are may be good players not greats.

  • Comment number 5.

    QUOTE by Prasath: "But he is so called all rounder, barring the 2005 Ashes he had nothing done to his called potential."

    100% correct - so what's all the fuss about???

  • Comment number 6.

    And this announcement couldnt wait until after the Ashes? I feel that Flintoff was always caught up in his legend. Did he do enough to improve his physical conditioning? He is a big man, but no bigger than Botham, and yet his career has never reached the levels that were possible.
    As for him being a lionheart, I would have liked to have seen more brains than heart. Compliments about how much "heart" a sportman has are usually reserved with those who failed.

  • Comment number 7.

    well silver_surfer!! you might not miss freddy but england cricket team will miss the bowler who bowls with a lot of passion whenever a cricket ball is given to him by his captain......can you name a handful of bowlers in england who bowl with the same agression and passion of flintoff....

  • Comment number 8.

    The "fuss" is about a bowler who could out think and out perform the best batsmen in the world. The "fuss" is about a batsman who on his day can make quality bowling attacks look silly. The "fuss" is about someone who could step up for the last over in an ODI with the opponents needing three to win and bowl a maiden. The "fuss" is about giving proper respect to a cricketer who might only have taken two wickets in an innings, but they'd have been Hayden and Ponting or Dravid and Tendulkar.
    The "fuss" is about making it clear to anyone who may be fooled that statistics without context tell you nothing about real achievements. And also, the "fuss" is about making sure that anyone who thinks that ignorant statements like "too busy getting drunk to be considered any good" are going to gain you any respect from anybody is not encouraged in their delusions.

  • Comment number 9.

    EddieOnTheWing: my flippant 'drunk' comment aside, the stats don't lie.

  • Comment number 10.

    Well said eddie statistics matter but not too much 'cause what is the use of picking 700 wickets when you didnt get Brianlara out in a test match?

  • Comment number 11.

    Big massive gargantuan boo boo, Nostalgic last few innings so he´ll be swinging the bat more than usual, he´ll get lucky and we might win one test because of it. Talk of a galvanising effect in the England dressing room are a desperate pathetic excuse for us to get some passion into a team that doesn't have the working class, "Fire in the Belly". Cruising in the comfort zone, middle class gamesmanship has not got the edge that is required, the killer instinct, the pure hatred. (the Aussie cricketers do actually hate us!) Thanks Freddie, adequate rest would have ensured another few years of this great talent, but that is not to be, the psychological effect of this announcement at such a moment is yet to be measured, but it will be negative and emotional, nostalgic and heroic but it is the wrong time to make this announcement, we´ve just reloaded the Aussie gun-barrel when it´s already packed to the max.

  • Comment number 12.

    Silver Surfer - Stats dont lie, but do they tell you the whole picture?

    If you actually watched cricket you will see what the fuss is about with Freddie. He is by far and away Englands best bowler, always troubling the batsmen and never giving away easy runs. Last weekends test match showed you his worth - his bowling allowed Broad and Anderson to get their wickets.



  • Comment number 13.

    Freddie an utter legend if he is not put down with the greats its due to his one downfall , injury !

    i think his timing is perfect because every test from now could be his last

    thanks for the memories fred

  • Comment number 14.

    I believe that bowlers who had taken not 700 wickets but more than 400 wickets had taken not only Lara but also Sachin, Hayden, Langer, Waugh brothers, Ponting, Dravid, Jayasuria, Inzaman or other greats or all time greats for more than one time.

  • Comment number 15.

    Perhaps I may be accused of being biased as a Lancashire type , but I feel that England have not helped the early retirement of Andrew Flintoff by adopting the " One more over " mentality with him . I can't think of any bowler of recent times that we have run into the ground in the hope that he would buy us one more wicket . He always proved his loyalty and work ethic by picking up the ball and bowling his heart out for England .
    Thank you Freddie , you may not have the stats to say you were the best , but for me you were always heart and soul for England .
    Perhaps now Lancashire may gain from this . Enjoy your retirement , I belive you have earnt it .

  • Comment number 16.

    I think he is an exciting player with a great deal of ability. But in an average England team he was allowed to get away with a lot of mediocre performances. Let'a face it, with his record he wouldn't be a permanent feature in one of the leading countries test team. Having said that, I believe he would have raised his game in these teams , not only because he would have had to, but he would have been challenged by the world class players he was playing with. If, as suggested, his bowling is so good that he can get wickets for mediocrity in the shape of Anderson & Broad, imagine what could have been achieved by Steyn & Ntini, Ishant Sharma & Zaheer Khan to name but a few. If he can get great batsmen out, as mentioned, I cannot understand why he then has difficulty knocking over 9, 10 & 11, which would give him his fyfer.

    As for his batting, I rate him no better than Shaun Pollock, and he batted at 8 throughout his test career.

    No question a talented cricketer, but suffered from playing in a very ordinary team and from the usual over-hyping that only happens in England.

  • Comment number 17.

    Freddy loves to live it up! Nothing wrong with that, except that all things have their time and place in life.

    When you are a national (international) icon, you must necessarily adopt a personal-discipline regime that would augment your ability to maintain optimal performances for as long as humanly possible, if that is your expected goal!

    You cant have your cake and eat it too!

    That means you must stay fit, avoid over indulgences and have a disciplined bedroom agenda, as well. As a former representative player, I can tell you, you don't have a choice if you plan on staying productive and competitive in regards to longevity!

    Cheers!

  • Comment number 18.

    Flintoff was right to announce it now, why keep it silent and get slated for holding it back.
    Plus it will give England actually something to work towards and winning the series for Fred.
    Plus he has been a top all-rounder but unfortuantely his career marred by the two incidents : the infamous 2006/07 Ashes Series when as Captain, he saw England thumped 5-0 and the Pedalo incident in the 2007 World Cup.
    Apart from that, he will wholly be remembered for you know what...which should be called Freddie's Ashes and they will always be.

  • Comment number 19.

    I love Freddy - but overall he's been disppointing. I know you can blame the injuries, but I suspect that he hasn't taken care of his body for a long time - over-weight, likes his drink. He was never going to last long. Definitely not in the same class as Botham or Kalas. He will be missed - I wish him all the best making money in the IPL, but I get help but wonder what could have been if he took his fitness serious over his career. Here's hoping he makes a big impact during the rest of the summer

  • Comment number 20.

    Desperately sad news. For me, it's not about the statistics, it's about character and entertainment. I don't want my sporting heroes to be systematic, dull, compilers of records - where's the fun in that? I want my heroes to be fallible geniuses - Warne, Gascoigne, Best, Sir Viv, Botham. They emptied bars whilst they were playing and no doubt filled them up when they weren't but so what, "Flintoff's bowling or Flintoff's batting" were thoughts that filled me with excitement at what might happen - the anticipation, the anti-climaxes maybe but I've yet to experience the same feeling when Alastair Cook is batting or Graeme Onions is bowling.

  • Comment number 21.

    Right decision but Flintoff will be missed enormously. He made Fletcher a great coach and Vaughan (and Pietersen for a short while) a great captain. Hopefully the best is still to come!

  • Comment number 22.

    EddieOnTheWing - brilliant reply.
    As a nation, we are fantastic at building up and beating up our special performers. Fred is undoubtedly special, and as GoonerGetIt said, the pyschological impact of the timing is yet to be seen, but it may be a masterstroke.
    Anyone who earns the respect of Punter as has been reported today is again special.
    Some commentators are right when they have said that he did not always perform to the best of his ability (but who does ???), and the ODD beer related ....erm.... incidents are blots on his landscape that Fred is probably not over happy with.
    The word talismanic has been used with Fred, and just listening to the crowd when he is belting in and bowling at 90 ish, or nursing the tail whilst seemingly pushing seriously world class bowlers around at will, confirm that word.

    Bloody good luck Fred, and hats off to you for making the decision you have. IF it is money based - which I seriously doubt - who wouldn't make that decision for their family ??

    Now then, let's all get behind England for the last 4 tests.

  • Comment number 23.

    There's no doubt that Flintoff has been a box office hit as far as English cricket is concerned but despite this, I do feel as if some people are going over the top here. Much as statistics don't tell the whole story, after 75 tests they're a fair indicator of how his career has panned out. He is a good bowler capable of getting the best batsmen in the world out but why hasn't he got more wickets? Great bowlers get five-fors regularly and although Flintoff has certainly had the ability to do it, it's not happened nearly regularly enough. Much as I like the guy, I feel a bit short changed to be honest.

  • Comment number 24.

    When he injured his side in the Caribbean, I felt that the end was nigh, and that he needed to be selective about his cricket. To end in an Ashes test is fitting. Fred has been a loyal servant to England (if you forgive the IPL escapade) and I would like to see him given a hero's send off. That means don't pick him at Lords, because it will be another flat track, and that could polish him off for the rest of the series. Far better to let him build up enough strength to put in one or two more barnstorming performances.
    Some people have made unflattering comparisons to Ian Botham, but to me Botham was a once in a lifetime player. Fred was no Botham, but he was the one and only Freddie Flintoff. And that is good enough for most England fans.

  • Comment number 25.

    Don't wish to be pedantic, but he broke his foot in Cape Town in 2000 (Ok the 99/00 series) but it was definitely this millenium. What about his run of consecutive test 50's prior to Ashes 05?

  • Comment number 26.

    I agree with the comments that the statistics do not reflect the contributions made by Flintoff, such as getting key batsmen out.

    I think that it's important to distinguish his early England career, which he has referred to as being poor, with his later career. In his earlier days he lacked confidence and maturity and this showed.

    Splitting up his stats up to the home series vs South Africa in 2003, whilst his averages before then are poor, he has averaged over 36 with the bat and under 30 with the ball since the start of that series, which I think rates him as a quality all-rounder.

    I disagree that Flintoff is no better than Pollock as a batsman - he has made some astounding knocks over the years for both England and Lancashire (I particularly remember 143 off 66 balls against Essex, before Twenty20 existed). His problem has been not playing enough consecutive matches due to injuries - after any sustained run he has done well with the bat.

    I don't like the way the press have been talking about Flintoff as if he will never play cricket again - this is not yet the case.

  • Comment number 27.

    As far I can see Flintoff has opted for the gravy train. I predict that he is setting a president and we will start to see many more international players using their thirties to maximise earning potential by kicking test cricket into touch and concentrating on IPL etc.
    Of course there was no way Flintoff was going to miss this years IPL when the proper course of action would have been to rest and prepare for the summer. I think this announcement is bad timing and as usual it is all about Freddie and not about what's best for England. I think he is egotistical, irresponsible at times and his acheivements have been over rated. His manic, ridiculous celebrations and his village idiot behaviour at times when representing England have made him a very poor role model.
    Back to the underlying problem of the demise of Test Cricket. The top brass need to urgently introduce a system which will encourage top players to carry on playing test cricket.
    They could start by suggesting to Flintoff that if your not fit enough for Test Cricket then your not fit enough to represent England for one day cricket! Of course he will still have IPL which I suspect will be his favourite form of cricket from now on anyway!

  • Comment number 28.

    This has been coming for a long time. The stress of fast bowling with such a huge body was bound to take its toll, no matter how fit he kept himself. Probably the only way Fred could have kept a Test career going was to concentrate solely on batting. So, thanks a lot Fred, it's been a very great pleasure watching you play Tests for England and the best of luck with everything you do. Finally, I do wish Ponting would stop questioning people's motives. He's not a psychologist and his constant whinging makes him sound mean-spirited and small-minded. Or is this just another laughable attempt at what Aussies fondly imagine to be "mind games"?

  • Comment number 29.

    I would hope that the selectors will never ever pick him as a one day limited overs player ,if he isnt fit for tests then out you go sorry if that sounds callous but we need fit players.

  • Comment number 30.

    18, "Apart from that, he will wholly be remembered for you know what...which should be called Freddie's Ashes and they will always be."

    Freddie's Ashes? Sickening.

  • Comment number 31.

    Freddie's problem is he was 20 years too late - I think he'd have enjoyed playing his cricket with Beefy and Lamby.

    At heart I think he just wants to play cricket and have a few beers. Unfortunately his body and men in suits seem to stop him him doing that.

    I personally would give anything to be able to play cricket at his level and I think he'll regret leaving the game early in years to come.

    My advice to Freddie is to give up everything else and just play test cricket. Limited overs are for children. Test cricket is for men.

    Decide in haste, repent in leisure

  • Comment number 32.


    Freddie is a great bowler, batsman and a fielder. There is plenty of top cricket yet to come from this world class cricketer. He will certainly be there for some more years playing in all forms of cricket. Let us wish him good health and good times.



    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 33.

    Well, he's certainly created debate hasn't he?

    Lots of talk about stats (how dull and boring is that!),'good riddance never lived up to potential' and he 'was a great'. There are lies, damned lies and statistics and I think the truth about Freddie is somewhere betwixt the two rapidly developing camps.

    A committed sportsman who in short bursts could terrify bowlers and batsmen alike,especially batsmen. Gilchrist openly admits to feeling mentally tortured by Fred.

    But did it to little to often to be classed as a great.

    For me what sets him apart as a cricketer and as an individual in the world of professional sport is the moment after the 2005 win by 2 runs, as his team rush into each others arms Fred has dropped to his haunches, his left hand on Lees shoulder, his right hand grasping Lees sweat filled glove. Compassion and empathy writ large across his big northern features as he comforts a visibly distressed Lee.

    Class act, class man.

  • Comment number 34.

    For those few months in 2005, Freddie helped give us (English fans) something we were beginning to think we'd never see again: the attitude and ability necessary for an Ashes-winning side. His contributions to that series cannot be overrated, and he should go down, for that reason alone, in the hall of fame as one of England's true Ashes heroes. More than that, he was something of a rarity: a truly wholesome role-model for young sportspeople. His test stats don't really talk of him as one of the all-time great test players, but the game isn't always about statistics - it's about people.
    England must now adjust to this impending loss - not by waiting for the next Botham or Flintoff (or King Arthur?) to come along, but each individual must raise their own game to adopt Freddie's level of competitiveness.

  • Comment number 35.

    29 "I would hope that the selectors will never ever pick him as a one day limited overs player ,if he isnt fit for tests then out you go sorry if that sounds callous but we need fit players."

    Good grief, just how mean-spirited can you get? What is it with this country and our attitude towards top sportsmen?

    My abiding memory of Fred is of his last few overs in the West Indies, AFTER it was known he had a hip problem, still pounding in on that dead, dead pitch and averaging nearly 90mph in his attempt to get the ball to do something.

    If he enjoys a few beers, so what? Isn't it refreshing to have personalities playing sport, instead of the all-too-common adroids who have had all spirit and individuality 'coached' out of them?

  • Comment number 36.

    That'll be ANDROIDS then. No idea what an adroid is...

  • Comment number 37.

    My opinion is that Flintoff is his early international career underperformed hugely-down to his weight and maybe his attitude. The weight issue must have impacted on his body as this has stifled his career somewhat.
    What is interesting is how often he played through his injuries having countless injections often returning to the fold not fully recovered. This was because the ecb rushed him back so often as he was a major player for England.
    He does have over 200 wickets which is more than decent as initially he was a batter who bowled a bit. He never really filled his boots with wickets or runs against the lesser sides as have other seamers in the past for england.
    He has under achieved with the bat often seems unsure as how to build an innings
    Last night geraint Jones said how freddie would get into the changing rooms after a hard days test cricket and collapse in his chair exhausted-i feel when he plays he gives 110 percent-not all recent england players can say this.
    Also he was instrumental in winning the only ashes series that i have witnessed after years of being bashe by the aussies
    Just think about this although his averages are not great how many players do england have to come in that will bat 7 and score test hundreds and also take wickets bowling fast-Stuart Broad? Dont make me laugh

  • Comment number 38.

    When the emotion has died down and we look at his stats, reality will step in and we will realize that except for a pretty good 2005 he didn't really achieve very much.
    Even in 2005 his stats are a long way from being great He was probably the best all rounder England had at the time but alas that is more of a sad indictment of English cricket than Freddies greatness.
    When he was on form with the ball he could turn a match but that's hardly unique, the exploits of one single player often turn a match. In a nutshell good player but no more. Good luck to him because he did always give his best, on the pitch anyway.

  • Comment number 39.

    Stoneymoto wrote:

    "Don't wish to be pedantic, but he broke his foot in Cape Town in 2000 (Ok the 99/00 series) but it was definitely this millenium."

    Ahhh, well if we're going to be pedantic then 2000 is actually the last year of the last millenium, not the first year of this millenium.

    The first millenium started on year 1 (there was no year 0), the second started on 1001 and the third on 2001.

    :)

  • Comment number 40.

    Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff have both shown vey silimar traits this summer, selfishness.Neither of them can let an Ashes series go by without making themselves the talking point.

    Flintoff's record is poor and he is in the team more by reputation than by any recent form, even when not injured.

    If any other bowler in world cricket had the ability to bowl fast and short but not takes wickets he would be derided by the press and fans in this country but "Freddie" is deemed to be indispensible.

    The Ashes are special, as we are told every day on Sky, but Flintoff wants to be the main attraction. His retirement from real cricket should have been left for after the series and he can now go and earn the big bucks with his pal "KP" and Chris Gayle, another couple of selfish guys.

  • Comment number 41.

    Interesting debate.
    Using the statistics of his career to assess how good a player Freddie is has to be an error. So many times he showed us the way, for the rest to follow. He changed the course of a game with the ball, softening the batsmen up, for the rest to clean the innings up. Remember Edgbaston in 2005, when he got Langer and Ponting. Won us the game that did. Suddenly everyone was on fire, the rest followed. Always a handful and so hard to play against, literally busting his body to get England ontop.
    You cannot compare the man to Pollock. Great bowler Pollock, capable of handy lower order runs. Swing bowler, but could he score big hundreds to put his team ontop? No. Freddie did. I was always impressed with the way he developed away swing. At the start of his career he could only swing the ball one way. By 2005 he had in-swing, out-swing, reverse swing. All at 90mph.
    Was he as good as Ian Botham? No. The best all-rounder since for England? Yes. Thats why I am sad to see him retire, sad that the injuries could not clear up. Ok, you can criticise him for not taking care of his body, but do you really know that he was not running up and down Lancashire hills to get himself fit? Because he was.

  • Comment number 42.

    Too young to have seen Botham, but I have seen Freddie play test cricket, as I am sure most here have, and I do believe I will be wanting to tell people about that in the future. That is the sign of a great player.

  • Comment number 43.

    Freddie - What can I say. What a waste of talent. Drinking binges and never been consistent enough. He will not be remembered as a legend in english cricket but as a wasted talent. Sure England will miss his bowling but besides that nothing else.

  • Comment number 44.

    Lionheart is ok, its the dodgy knees we are worried about. On pain-killer shots again?

  • Comment number 45.

    More runs... the pitch looks about as responsive as a nubile woman to the advances of an inebriated Phil Tufnell. Considering the likelihood of rain tomorrow, is the 13th over too early to call a draw?

  • Comment number 46.

    Do you know what really REALLY irks me ?? All the people on here banging on about Flintoff being a wasted talent and talking about his drinking (so what !!) would have been singing his praises and dancing in the streets if he puts in a match winning and/or series winning performance if ha hadn't made this announcement now . . . and even more irritatingly calling him Fred as if they're best mates.

    You knwo what ?? Grow up, stop whining about everything and trying to make an "intelligent point" by banging on about statistics and "wasted potential" . . . it's highly likely that he has more potential in his little finger than most of you lot have ever had so drop the petty jealousy and just enjoy the Ashes and give the guy a chance to prove to us all what a great competitor and great Englishman he really is !!!

    Rant Over.

  • Comment number 47.

    You know what guy's yes he was given a talent and half way through his career his worked hard to progress on his fitness levels etc.

    But let's be honest here how many of us would kill for his talent and would work a lot harder at what he does because we weren't given that talent.

    I hear them complain about to much cricket, hell let him come do my Job of 60 hours a week and earn peanuts for it. They have a job, hobby and earn a lot of money for what they are doing.

    They need to get over it and enjoy what they are doing, damn I would swop for what they are doing any day.

  • Comment number 48.

    If he would have controlled his wine and dine habbits he might have been a good alrounder. All i remember abt Freddie is very few innings.
    He is no where near greats of Ian, Imram, or Kapil.

  • Comment number 49.

    Whole Hearted maybe when his fitness regime allowed him to play. Not off the pitch I am afraid. Arguably a disruptive and divisive presence as well especially when he was captain. Judged on the last Ashes tour a team cancer more concerned with his mates off the field.

    Taking Fletcher literally an indulged baby, made captain because of his and Harm-less-sons whining if he was not. He seems to want to be all things to all people - see how Moores and KP both assumed he agreed with them - or his undignified doing whatever Sky TV asked. England's results with and without him in recent years show little difference (arguably better without). Not really good enough bar 2 years to bat at 6 and only a top class bowler for 1 or 2 years in Test cricket. Not sure he was ever in danger of being the top all rounder in the world bar '04 either. I'd take Kallis and Gilchrist over him and they've had far more good years.

    In the end a top class one day bowler and an occasional good performer in test cricket. Shame for him is that our one day team has almost universally reeked.

    We get a series of one liners about him but you'll notice how few tributes will include quantifiable facts or anything measurable. It's probably not his fault that the selectors and ECB have been in awe of his and the others celebrity and allowed the academy and first team to decline so badly in 4 years. Maybe had they stayed on his case and not selected him till he was fit enough he might have become a good test cricketer instead of a coulda shoulda.

    It's unfair to judge Botham's career on one series against a broken Australian side as he had 5 great years at least in Flintoff's case it's almost all his achievements bar the '04 year.

    The way England collectively and personally have wasted their talent the last few years is sickening to anyone who follows the sport and not just the Ashes. The fitness regimes of several and their alcohol consumption preclude greatness in a more intelligent sporting achievement culture which values consistent achievement over one off under dogism.

  • Comment number 50.

    I think Flintoff is a bit overrated as an all-rounder - Flintoff is not in the league of Ian Botham for example - Ian was magnificent, taking catches, wickets and score runs at ease - He was England's best ever all-rounder - Tony Greig, Ray Ilingworth like blokes are good, but not as good as Ian

    Flintoff has a huge problem with his frame - he is not suited for longer versions of the game - he gets injured so often that the weather in England is less fickle - so, no point analyzing the loss/gains of his quitting Tests - t is good for him and England, that he quits Test cricket

  • Comment number 51.

    Real shame. I'd say a case of opportunity missed. Fred was, and is, a superb cricketer, and Ashes 2005 was all the more memorable for his collosal input. His bowling is at times world class, and his batting (perhaps too infrequently) can win matches in the Botham mould.
    Fred will rightly claim that his body has let him down (2 yrs in rehab in the last 4) but I wonder how much better is body would be if it wasn't frequently dehydrated (and not always through sweat!)
    Thierry Henry, after winning a cup final, or league - I can't remember which, was asked whether he'd be having a few drinks to celebrate. His answer? No, I'm a professional footballer.

  • Comment number 52.

    Flintoff was/is a great England cricketer by England standards. He had the greatest of talents of any of his generation but squandered many good years. Yes there were injuries but I have never seen the lad in good shape. He is loved though. He appealed to the average drunk/fat fan with his podgy frame and alcohol antics as well as his affable Northern personality. He is the Joe Cricketer the fans can imagine having a pint with. Well said Silver Surfer with the Hitman Hatton comparison.

    Not all would agree that those things are bad - thats your typical English sportsfan for you. My opinion is that he, and therefore England, would have had a decade of greatness had he looked after his body and drank moderately/abstained. As it happens he had a massive contribution to THE ONLY MEMORABLE CRICKETING MOMENT that the under-30 cricket fans of this land have ever seen. I cannot recall anything else that he has done.

  • Comment number 53.

    Clearly it's sad that Flintoff is going, but how can he complain of burnout on one hand, and on the other play for that sickening marketing scheme that is the IPL?

    Daft.

  • Comment number 54.

    Why do sportsmen of the modern are cite 'burnout' ? It's just an excuse isn't it ? How can Flintoff claim this them pledge to the IPL ? Taking central contracts into consideration a current England player takes part in less cricket than a domestic player. Furthermore, there was no such thing as 'bunout' 20 years ago, players just got on with it. We didn't hear Beefy complaining of this, did we? and he played around the same amout of cricket. Granted, their might me additional mental pressures thruough the media these days but that's one reason why the receive great money. Thanks for your contribution Freddie, it's sad to see you go but Stop whinging. Just get on with it and count your lucky stars you don't have to work 9-5 with 25 days off every year.

  • Comment number 55.

    Flintoff will never replicate Ian Botham but there is no doubt that he is a great cricketer. In the Ashes 2005 he played a major part in winning back the Ashes. Injuries have taken there toll on the big man but he can still be vital to the 20-20 and ODI teams.

  • Comment number 56.

    I don't regard myself as any kind of expert on cricket, I've been to a few games - including the 2005 ashes at Trent Bridge - and it's the fitness issue that strikes me. Flintoff is overweight for a professional sportsman and being overweight makes injuries more likely to happen and harder to overcome.

    He took the Freddie Flintoff thing to mean too much and became a caricature of himself, making his cricket suffer. At this period in time, he was often out in the top bars in Manchester living it up and throwing booze back at a scary rate. I know this as I saw him.

    A footballer does this and doesn't look after themselves, we rage - ok for a cricketer to do it though?

  • Comment number 57.

    Englands star batsman Kevin Pietersen has been ruled out of the rest of the Ashes series due to an Achilles injury, Pietersen missed the 3 match ODI series against the West Indies in May as a result of the same injury.

    http://www.odds.eu.com/england-v-australia-3rd-test-match

    The loss of Pietersen is a huge blow to England, the middle order batsman, scored a sublime 158 for England on the last day of the 5th Test at the Oval, in the 2005 Ashes series, this innings helped England secure a draw and regain the Ashes for the first time in 16 years.

    http://oddsbet.typepad.com/

    England now await on news of Andrew Flintoffs fitness for the 3 remaining matches in this years Ashes campaign, Flintoff announced prior to the 2nd Test Match that he is retiring from Test Cricket at the end of this series, but the all rounder produced one of his finest bowling spells in that Lords Test taking 5 wickets to rip through the Australian lower order and seal victory for England, and the Man of the Match accolade for himself.

 

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