Michael Jeh September 11, 2008

Freddie's back

At a time when some other notable players are battling demons, Andrew Flintoff just seems to be revelling in being back on the park again
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From an Australian viewpoint, they don’t come much better than Freddie Flintoff. If the Brits were feeling particularly generous, they might even consider making him an honorary Aussie! We’d love to claim him.

Seriously though, it’s great to see the old Flintoff back in full swing. It’s not just his talent that stands out a mile - to me, Flintoff stands for everything that is good about cricket. He’s almost an Errol Flynn-type character.

Buccaneering - now there’s a word that one doesn’t often get to use in modern language but it was made for a chap like Flintoff. He’s not perfect, he gets into the odd scrape and he occasionally plays a daft shot at a crucial time. Even then, he disarms people with his slightly sheepish grin and his refusal to take life too seriously. There’s a hint of Ian Botham in him in that sense. Cricket seems to be a bit of a lark to him and his persona is infectious. Put simply, it’s hard to dislike Flintoff.

I’m not sure about other parts of the cricketing world but I get the distinct impression that Australians have a soft spot for players like him. They must, first and foremost, earn respect for their on-field skills and Freddie seems to have done that. His lion-hearted performances in the 2005 Ashes as well as some brave, lone bowling spells in the 2006-07 series makes him stand out. To a certain extent, Kevin Pietersen too is a popular figure here for similar reasons.

What makes Flintoff really stand out though is his wonderful ability to play the game “hard but fair”. It’s a term that is terribly overused and often in entirely the wrong context. Hard but fair is not about mouthing crude obscenities on the field, having a beer in the dressing room and then turning on the abuse again next morning. That’s just a winner’s definition of the term. Players like Flintoff and Brett Lee seem to have found that wonderful balance of giving nothing short of 100% with ball or bat in hand but stop short of crossing that fine line that separates competitiveness from boorishness.

Both Flintoff and Lee may have been a bit less so in their youth but that’s just part of growing up. Lance Klusener too finished his career giving the impression of someone who put cricket in perspective. In the modern game, Mike Hussey, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Bond, Kumar Sangakkara and Virender Sehwag appear to have similar sunny dispositions. It could be an elaborate disguise but one hopes not. They all seem genuinely likeable characters.

Back to Flintoff though - he just seems to exude a boyish charm that makes it difficult to dislike him, even in the middle of a hostile spell. Watching him against South Africa recently, he beat batsmen with snorting deliveries and realised the moral victory was his without having to rub it in. When he took a wicket, the celebrations seemed more inward-focused than a triumphalist humiliation of the batsman. Job done - no need to send them off with a cowardly gesture. When he smashed a boundary, he sported a cheeky grin rather than an aggressive fist in the air. It was almost like a schoolboy who’s found a dollar coin in the gutter. He’ll claim it but is almost sheepish about his good fortune.

Lee shares a lot in common with Flintoff - by all accounts, they are both popular figures, even amongst opponents. Every country has these players - genuine ‘nice guys’ who seem to still treat international cricket with that touch of irreverence. Deadly serious competitors but they just know where to draw that line. It’s too easy to focus on those who cross that line and bring the game into disrepute but with a big man like Flintoff, one can only hope that he becomes a hero to more than just British kids. In fact, sometimes, Flintoff acts like a kid himself, kicking up his heels and celebrating simple pleasures, even at his own expense.

At a time when some other notable players are battling demons, Flintoff just seems to be revelling in being back on the park again. A fit and happy Freddy is not just good for England but he’s great for cricket full stop. So long as he retires before the next Ashes.

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Malik on September 18, 2008, 18:06 GMT

    A real humble man inside a true, competitive crickter! we should also not forget MS Dhoni in the ranks....a real hero for Indian team but a great ambassador for the global cricket! (A Pakistani born singapore resident)

  • Aussie Din ks on September 17, 2008, 0:38 GMT

    Mark I lived in Bristol England for 5 years but that did not make me a Brit. All it made me was a resident in the country for 5 years.

  • Dimuthu Ratnayake on September 16, 2008, 10:37 GMT

    it wouldn't surprise me if Flintoff's action wasn't 100% clean, according to an ICC endorsed study, looking at archived footage, almost every bowler "chucked" ppl think the laws were changed for Murali, but the laws needed changing if bowlers were going to be analysed. anyway, this article has nothing to do with chucking! Am a huge Freddie fan and am glag he's back and is performing so well :)

  • MarkMark on September 14, 2008, 20:52 GMT

    "By the way people Brits that live in Australia are not really Aussies."

    That would make the population of Australia around half a million then if you use your strange logic.

  • Aussie Dinks on September 14, 2008, 8:40 GMT

    By the way people Brits that live in Australia are not really Aussies.

  • Aussie Dinks on September 14, 2008, 8:25 GMT

    Ummm Geoffrey what part of Test Match played in England do you not understand that the English actually lost.

  • sam on September 13, 2008, 18:28 GMT

    Jagadish, your comments are pathetic and nonsense to say the least. If freedie is a chuker, try defending Bhajji.

  • waterbuffalo on September 12, 2008, 18:03 GMT

    To the person that called Flintoff a chucker- in slow motion, everybody's elbow bends, no one can keep an unbent elbow during delivery. You have to judge it in 'real time' not slow motion. Everybody knows this, except you, apparently. In real time if there is any doubt, then you can suggest chucking, not in slow motion. Have you seen Sree Santh in slow motion? Look at his elbow.

  • Navin Pinto on September 12, 2008, 16:20 GMT

    The most important cog in the English attack from 2005 that will be missing next Ashes is (S)tres(s)cothick.... or at least, his Murray mints! Then again the Poms should have no trouble finding someone that 'sucks'.

  • Ray on September 12, 2008, 13:15 GMT

    Er... Jagadish, know of any fast bowler who doesn't chuck by your definition?

  • Malik on September 18, 2008, 18:06 GMT

    A real humble man inside a true, competitive crickter! we should also not forget MS Dhoni in the ranks....a real hero for Indian team but a great ambassador for the global cricket! (A Pakistani born singapore resident)

  • Aussie Din ks on September 17, 2008, 0:38 GMT

    Mark I lived in Bristol England for 5 years but that did not make me a Brit. All it made me was a resident in the country for 5 years.

  • Dimuthu Ratnayake on September 16, 2008, 10:37 GMT

    it wouldn't surprise me if Flintoff's action wasn't 100% clean, according to an ICC endorsed study, looking at archived footage, almost every bowler "chucked" ppl think the laws were changed for Murali, but the laws needed changing if bowlers were going to be analysed. anyway, this article has nothing to do with chucking! Am a huge Freddie fan and am glag he's back and is performing so well :)

  • MarkMark on September 14, 2008, 20:52 GMT

    "By the way people Brits that live in Australia are not really Aussies."

    That would make the population of Australia around half a million then if you use your strange logic.

  • Aussie Dinks on September 14, 2008, 8:40 GMT

    By the way people Brits that live in Australia are not really Aussies.

  • Aussie Dinks on September 14, 2008, 8:25 GMT

    Ummm Geoffrey what part of Test Match played in England do you not understand that the English actually lost.

  • sam on September 13, 2008, 18:28 GMT

    Jagadish, your comments are pathetic and nonsense to say the least. If freedie is a chuker, try defending Bhajji.

  • waterbuffalo on September 12, 2008, 18:03 GMT

    To the person that called Flintoff a chucker- in slow motion, everybody's elbow bends, no one can keep an unbent elbow during delivery. You have to judge it in 'real time' not slow motion. Everybody knows this, except you, apparently. In real time if there is any doubt, then you can suggest chucking, not in slow motion. Have you seen Sree Santh in slow motion? Look at his elbow.

  • Navin Pinto on September 12, 2008, 16:20 GMT

    The most important cog in the English attack from 2005 that will be missing next Ashes is (S)tres(s)cothick.... or at least, his Murray mints! Then again the Poms should have no trouble finding someone that 'sucks'.

  • Ray on September 12, 2008, 13:15 GMT

    Er... Jagadish, know of any fast bowler who doesn't chuck by your definition?

  • Akshay on September 12, 2008, 13:08 GMT

    Great Post, i think guys like Freedie, Lee, Sachin, Younis Khan, Inzi, Murali are the guys which are liked even by their opponents and whether or not my fellow blog mates like it but they are to me true ambassdors of game unlike cricketrs like Bhajji or symonds.

  • Jagadish on September 12, 2008, 8:50 GMT

    I believe Flintoff chucks. If you see his action on slow motion, he blatantly uses his elbow and wrist to propel the ball. The only thing that saves him is that no-one's really bothered to have it examined.

  • Hari on September 12, 2008, 3:34 GMT

    Flintoff's back? Really? Because for me he is the best player in the planet. So its good news. But I really hope he doesnt get injured again. What about Steve Harmison? I really cant beleive that England lost 5-0 last time when they had Freddie, KP and Harmison.

  • Geoffrey Plumridge on September 12, 2008, 2:32 GMT

    Ummm.. Aussie Din ks what part of 4-0 against the second best ODI side in the world isn't "winning at Home"?

    I'd say every Aussie should be concerned. If Jones, Freddy & Harmison are fit and bowling in tandem with Sidebottom as an option (what an option!!) then that attack is better than Australias.. and god knows Australia played that attack rather poorly last time they were in England.

    Even though I am an Aussie.. I'll be putting my money on the English team come next June.

  • Aussie Din ks on September 12, 2008, 1:03 GMT

    Micheal as an Aussie I have to disagree with you because I for one have never had any desire for Andrew Flintoff to become a member of our cricket team let alone an honorary member and I am sure their are a lot of Aussies that feel the same way. I would have understood if you had likened him to Andrew Symonds but not Brett Lee because the truth is nice guys that are paid that amount of money do not get pissed drunk and get sent home in disgrace. An Hero is a very special person that does something that is selfless without any gain so please do not demean the word "Hero". I also watched the SA game as I did the SL - India game and it is amazing how two different people can see two different things. Also England actually should be winning at Home because the truth is if you can not win at home you can't win full stop.

  • mini_tugga on September 11, 2008, 23:31 GMT

    Too right Michael! It is impossible not to like Freddie. Rare indeed are the athletes that transcend national borders with their ability and demeanour. When fit and in form, England are blessed with the greatest bowling attack in modern cricket (if they would only pick Simon Jones). As an Aussie I certainly hope he doesn't retire before the next Ashes series and that he gives a performance as mesmerising as that of 2005.

  • Brendanvio on September 11, 2008, 23:14 GMT

    'So long as he retires before the next Ashes'

    Too late to make him an Australian too. Damn.

    It's a fine line that cricketers tred on hard but fair. Speaking from an amateur basis (I play cricket for a low, low grade in Sydney), there is no real heavy culture of sledging but its still competitive cricket which ends with a beer. It's a spirit that needs to be promoted more within the game.

    Once again, I wish Freddie was Australian. I also wish Ajantha Mendis was Australian.

  • Michael Jeh on September 11, 2008, 22:36 GMT

    How could I forget Younis Khan in the list of current players who seem to have a smile and a great sense of humour as a permanent part of their game? AB De Villers too gives that impression. I'm sure there are lots more that I forgot to mention.

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  • Michael Jeh on September 11, 2008, 22:36 GMT

    How could I forget Younis Khan in the list of current players who seem to have a smile and a great sense of humour as a permanent part of their game? AB De Villers too gives that impression. I'm sure there are lots more that I forgot to mention.

  • Brendanvio on September 11, 2008, 23:14 GMT

    'So long as he retires before the next Ashes'

    Too late to make him an Australian too. Damn.

    It's a fine line that cricketers tred on hard but fair. Speaking from an amateur basis (I play cricket for a low, low grade in Sydney), there is no real heavy culture of sledging but its still competitive cricket which ends with a beer. It's a spirit that needs to be promoted more within the game.

    Once again, I wish Freddie was Australian. I also wish Ajantha Mendis was Australian.

  • mini_tugga on September 11, 2008, 23:31 GMT

    Too right Michael! It is impossible not to like Freddie. Rare indeed are the athletes that transcend national borders with their ability and demeanour. When fit and in form, England are blessed with the greatest bowling attack in modern cricket (if they would only pick Simon Jones). As an Aussie I certainly hope he doesn't retire before the next Ashes series and that he gives a performance as mesmerising as that of 2005.

  • Aussie Din ks on September 12, 2008, 1:03 GMT

    Micheal as an Aussie I have to disagree with you because I for one have never had any desire for Andrew Flintoff to become a member of our cricket team let alone an honorary member and I am sure their are a lot of Aussies that feel the same way. I would have understood if you had likened him to Andrew Symonds but not Brett Lee because the truth is nice guys that are paid that amount of money do not get pissed drunk and get sent home in disgrace. An Hero is a very special person that does something that is selfless without any gain so please do not demean the word "Hero". I also watched the SA game as I did the SL - India game and it is amazing how two different people can see two different things. Also England actually should be winning at Home because the truth is if you can not win at home you can't win full stop.

  • Geoffrey Plumridge on September 12, 2008, 2:32 GMT

    Ummm.. Aussie Din ks what part of 4-0 against the second best ODI side in the world isn't "winning at Home"?

    I'd say every Aussie should be concerned. If Jones, Freddy & Harmison are fit and bowling in tandem with Sidebottom as an option (what an option!!) then that attack is better than Australias.. and god knows Australia played that attack rather poorly last time they were in England.

    Even though I am an Aussie.. I'll be putting my money on the English team come next June.

  • Hari on September 12, 2008, 3:34 GMT

    Flintoff's back? Really? Because for me he is the best player in the planet. So its good news. But I really hope he doesnt get injured again. What about Steve Harmison? I really cant beleive that England lost 5-0 last time when they had Freddie, KP and Harmison.

  • Jagadish on September 12, 2008, 8:50 GMT

    I believe Flintoff chucks. If you see his action on slow motion, he blatantly uses his elbow and wrist to propel the ball. The only thing that saves him is that no-one's really bothered to have it examined.

  • Akshay on September 12, 2008, 13:08 GMT

    Great Post, i think guys like Freedie, Lee, Sachin, Younis Khan, Inzi, Murali are the guys which are liked even by their opponents and whether or not my fellow blog mates like it but they are to me true ambassdors of game unlike cricketrs like Bhajji or symonds.

  • Ray on September 12, 2008, 13:15 GMT

    Er... Jagadish, know of any fast bowler who doesn't chuck by your definition?

  • Navin Pinto on September 12, 2008, 16:20 GMT

    The most important cog in the English attack from 2005 that will be missing next Ashes is (S)tres(s)cothick.... or at least, his Murray mints! Then again the Poms should have no trouble finding someone that 'sucks'.