News & Current Affairs

July 15, 2009

Flintoff quits Tests after Ashes

Flintoff quits Tests after Ashes

England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has announced he will retire from Test cricket at the end of the current Ashes series against Australia.

The hero of England’s victorious 2005 Ashes campaign has fought a constant battle against injuries and will now concentrate on one-day cricket.

The 31-year-old is currently fighting to be fit for the second Test at Lord’s because of a knee problem.

Flintoff said: “My body has told me it’s time to stop.”

The latest knee injury flared up after the drawn first Test against Australia in Cardiff and Flintoff explained: “It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while and I think this last problem I’ve had with my knee has confirmed to me that the time is now right.

“I’ve been through four ankle operations, I had knee surgery just a couple of months ago and had three jabs in my knee on Monday, just to get me right for this Test, so I took that as my body telling me that I can’t cope with the rigours of Test cricket.

“For the next four Test matches I’ll do everything I need to do to get on a cricket field and I’m desperate to make my mark.”

The burly Lancastrian dismissed suggestions that his impending Test retirement would overshadow the remainder of the series.

“An Ashes series is bigger than any one player,” he said. “The focus will be on England trying to win a special series.”

So far Flintoff has played for his country 76 times in an 11-year Test career since his debut against South Africa in a famous England victory at Trent Bridge.

But undoubtedly his finest hours came during the 2-1 series success at home to Australia in 2005, a summer that resulted in Flintoff being hailed for his sportsmanship as well as his cricketing ability.

After a duck and then three in the first Test at Lord’s, he made half-centuries in each innings and took seven wickets as England fought back thrillingly to win by only two runs and level the score at Edgbaston – where his hand-on-shoulder consolation for a beaten Brett Lee became perhaps the iconic image of the whole series.

Flintoff’s maiden Ashes hundred helped bring a second home win in Nottingham and there were more runs and wickets as England regained the urn in a fifth-Test draw at The Oval.

Flintoff retirement surprises Ponting

With 2005 captain Michael Vaughan out injured, Flintoff himself was to lead England in their ill-starred bid to retain the Ashes in 2006-07, a series that ended in a 5-0 whitewash.

He lost the vice-captaincy under Vaughan after his drunken late-night escapade on a pedalo at the start of a notably unsuccessful 2007 World Cup campaign in the Caribbean.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting said his team were “a little surprised” by Flintoff’s decision, but added they will not treat him any differently for the second Ashes Test at Lord’s which begins on Thursday.

“We know how big a figure he is in the England team,” said Ponting. “I think you could even see that last week with his first spell back in the Test side – the whole ground sort of lifted, it changed the real feel around the ground last week.

“I thought we did a good job. We played him very well last week whether it was with the ball when he was bowling or when we had a chance to bowl to him.”

Ponting added: “He’s been a great figure in the game. The way he’s gone about his cricket, the way he’s played the game and how much he’s enjoyed the battle – probably particular in Ashes cricket – is something that’s been very fun to be a part of for me.”

Flintoff’s former Lancashire team-mate Sourav Ganguly said he was paying the price for England’s over-reliance on him.

“I always said England needed to balance his bowling with his batting if they wanted him to survive longer in Test cricket,” said the former India captain.

“With England, every time they are under pressure it is Freddie with the ball because he is their best bowler.

“He’s a big boy and injuries are part and parcel of sport, but there are other fast bowlers around the world who are running in and keep playing and doing well in Test matches.

“I think it more about Freddie Flintoff’s body than the rigours of international cricket. To be honest it’s the amount of bowling he does for England.”

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew said the news was not a surprise and rather than distracting England from the task in hand, it might inspire them in the Ashes.

“It’s interesting that he’s done it now – it’s been talked about a great deal and has been a bit of a distraction,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Now he’s got it out, he’ll want to enjoy his last Tests so if I was an Australian, I’d think ‘oh dear’, – it might be galvanising for the England camp.”

Some cynics have pointed out that sacrificing his Test career means Flintoff is saving himself for the more lucrative limited-overs formats but Agnew said Flintoff was not being selfish.

“There’s a very lucrative one-day league – the Indian Premier League – for which he’s now fully available,” he added.

“They’re paid per match, so if he goes and plays the whole thing, he picks up all the money.

“But I’m not cynical, he’s been on the bench for the last couple of years and England need to know what’s going and build for the future. If he does have problems with his fitness, that uncertainty is removed from their planning.”


September 1, 2008

England v South Africa ODI series

England v South Africa ODI series
Fourth one-day international, Lord’s: England 137-3 (17.4 ovs) bt South Africa 183-6 (32.1 ovs) by seven wickets
(Target: 137 from 20 overs)

By Jamie Lillywhite

Andrew Flintoff

Flintoff lit up the gloom of early autumn with some magnificent hitting

England made it four wins from four in the one-day series against South Africa with a seven-wicket win at Lord’s.

The match was cut to 33 overs after rain delays, but Herschelle Gibbs and Hashim Amla fired 66 from 55 balls.

Gibbs hit 74 from 75 balls and Andrew Flintoff took 3-21 but rain ended South Africa’s innings on 183-6 after 32.1.

Chasing a revised 137 from 20 overs, Owais Shah made 43 and Flintoff struck one six for 31 from 12 balls as England won with 14 deliveries to spare.

The Twenty20 match between the teams was abandoned at Durham, but England effectively faced that scenario with their 120-ball innings.

Although the average Twenty20 domestic score at Lord’s was 159, it was not a particularly enticing prospect in gloomy light, facing bowlers in excess of 90mph.

It was in England interests to play on, as a 5-0 whitewash in the series will take them above South Africa into second in the world rankings.

The batting order remained the same but Ian Bell and Matt Prior seemed to panic, Prior trying to give himself room and edging for nought in the second over.

It was not until the fifth over that Bell hit the first boundary, but immediately afterwards he got a thick edge to the keeper.

Even Shah and Kevin Pietersen initially found it difficult to get their timing as 101 were needed from 12.

Herschelle Gibbs

Gibbs gave South Africa a fine start with some superb strokeplay

But the captain then swiped three successive fours off Jacques Kallis and Shah brought up the fifty partnership from 39 balls with a 90m six as Kallis conceded 20 from his over.

Pietersen helped reduce the requirement to 44 from 38 before he mis-cued to deep mid-wicket, but Flintoff somehow hit some more awesome shots as England achieved a relatively comfortable win in near darkness, despite some regrettable delaying tactics from the South Africans.

The early morning conditions across the south-east had an end of the world air about them, with sombre, dark clouds.

South Africa, crushed by 10 wickets at Trent Bridge and 126 runs in the last game at The Oval must have felt similarly despondent after losing the toss.

Pietersen had no hesitation in bowling first given the moisture around and the prospect of further interruptions.

But James Anderson and Stuart Broad sent down some loose early deliveries and Gibbs and Amla took full advantage in a strong start by the tourists.

After six overs with the score at 37-0 there was a 49-minute delay, after which Pietersen brought Steve Harmison into the attack.

Harmison looked more like the bowler who previously struggled with the white ball, offering too much width as the stylish Amla carved him away for four boundaries in an over.

Faced with the first difficulties of a magical start to his reign at 66-0, Pietersen was happy to be able to turn to Flintoff, and his all-rounder duly made the breakthrough, albeit not in the customary manner.

Gibbs pushed for a single but Amla was unsure of the run and as both batsmen found themselves at the non-striker’s end, Shah was alert with a direct hit to the opposite set of timbers from mid-on.It was the fourth run-out the South Africans have suffered in the series, and two overs later acting captain Jacques Kallis saw his miserable run continue when he was dismissed for one by the imperious Flintoff, who took 1-8 from his first spell of four overs.

Kallis stood his ground and appeared incensed when given out by the third umpire, but there appeared little doubt either that he had edged in flat-footed fashion or that the ball had carried through low to Prior.

AB de Villiers played a curiously disjointed innings and Samit Patel was rewarded for some tight slow left-arm as he holed out to the impenetrable hands of Flintoff at deep mid-wicket.

JP Duminy dented his figures somewhat, launching a straight six and then adopting a Pietersen-style switch hit for four more.

He shared 42 in as many balls with Gibbs before failing to control Flintoff’s bouncer and top-edging a hook to mid-wicket.

Gibbs departed in the next over, the 29th, moving across his stumps to try to glance Broad, but edging onto his pad and then the stumps.

The South Africans were able to add 25 in 3.5 overs, Flintoff collecting his third wicket when Vernon Philander sliced to long-off, but although the umpires were keen to complete the innings, the rain was too heavy and the innings had to end five balls before it was due to.

That might well have been the end of proceedings, but the space age Lord’s drainage gave the crowd some superb late evening entertainment and kept England’s dream alive.

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