The Ashes 2009 July 15, 2009

Flintoff to retire from Test cricket

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Listen to the press conference

Andrew Flintoff has announced that he will retire from Test cricket at the end of this Ashes summer, although he still intends to make himself available for Twenty20 and ODI cricket, and is expected to be fit for tomorrow's second Test against Australia.

Flintoff, who has missed 25 of England's last 48 Tests through a variety of injuries, suffered another fitness scare on the eve of the Lord's Test, when he reported soreness and swelling in the same right knee that required surgery back in April, after he tore his meniscus while playing in the IPL.

"It's not something I have just thought of overnight, it's something that's been on my mind for a while regarding this series," said Flintoff. "With the knee flaring up again and getting the injections on Monday, now is a time I felt comfortable with doing it. There's been a lot of speculation over my future for the past few weeks, so I wanted to get it out there, and concentrate on playing cricket.

"I've had four ankle operations and knee surgery, so my body is telling me things, and I'm actually starting to listen. I can't just play games here and there while waiting to be fit. For my own sanity, and for my family's, I've got to draw a line under it. I've been going through two years of rehab in the past four, which is not ideal."

Prior to England's practice session on Wednesday morning, Flintoff gave the team talk in a sombre atmosphere, and afterwards Paul Collingwood immediately came up and shook him by the hand. "Freddie simply said that these four Tests would be his last in Test cricket," a team insider told Cricinfo. Andrew Strauss, the England captain, said the team were saddened, though not surprised, about Flintoff's decision to stand down from Test cricket.

"As players we've had a feeling this would come sooner rather than later," Strauss said. "We feel sad he's had to make this decision at his age, but we're sure it will motivate him even more for this series."

The knee injury that has threatened his participation at Lord's followed a spirited performance in the first Test at Cardiff, in which Flintoff bowled 35 overs but was once again under-rewarded with figures of 1 for 128. Strauss was optimistic on Wednesday that Flintoff will come through a fitness test and make himself available for selection, and he was seen skipping during England's warm-up in the indoor nets, before padding up for batting practice, then sending down a few pacey overs on the outdoor nets.

"The indications are that he's going to be fine," Strauss said. "He had a good bowl today, we just need to see how he reacts to what he did today before we can be 100% sure. At this stage we are hopeful but we can't be sure.

Top Curve
A decade of frustration
  • 1999 Returns early from South Africa with broken foot.
  • 2000 Back injury ends Pakistan tour.
  • 2002 Delays a hernia operation to try and complete India Test series but still misses final Test. Later returns from Ashes tour with groin problem.
  • 2003 Plays in the World up, but misses Zimbabwe Tests back in England with shoulder injury after being hit in the nets by Sajid Mahmood.
  • 2003 Ruled out of the two-Test series in Bangladesh, but returns for the one-dayers.
  • 2005 Returns from South Africa in January and misses one-day series to have ankle surgery. Is fit in time for the home season including the Ashes.
  • 2006 After captaining England against Sri Lanka in Test series he is out for 12 weeks after ankle surgery and misses rest of the summer. Returns in Champions Trophy as a batsman and leads England in the Ashes.
  • 2007 More surgery to his left ankle after the World Cup and misses most of the home season before returning for the one-day series against India. However, he can't play all seven games due to a recurrence of the problem.
  • 2007 Takes part in the ICC World Twenty20 but barely limps through it. Following the tournament he goes under the knife again and misses rest of the winter.
  • 2008 Was set to return against New Zealand in the home series but strains his side playing for Lancashire. Comeback delayed until second Test against South Africa at Headingley.
  • 2009 Returns from West Indies after the third Test with a hip injury but rejoins the tour for the one-day series.
  • 2009 Returns from South Africa after his IPL stint with Chennai Superkings was cut short by a torn meniscus in his right knee. Subsequently misses the World Twenty20.
  • 2009 Injury scare following the first Ashes Test in Cardiff after Flintoff has soreness and swelling in the knee.
Bottom Curve

"When you go in with three seamers, you've got to expect all three to bowl a lot of overs. Fred understands that, but this week in all likelihood there will be four seamers and maybe [they] won't have quite as big a workload. We'd never play any bowler in a Test match who we didn't think could contribute as fully as anyone else."

Though he acknowledged that Flintoff's overall statistics do not bear greatness, Strauss lauded Flintoff's effect on the modern game.

"He's had a dramatic impact in English cricket over the past few years, in the style with which he's batted, and for a long period he's been one of the bowlers in world cricket that batters least like facing, although the figures maybe don't show that," Strauss said. "And also as a personality, he's done a huge amount for cricket in the way he's played with a smile on his face. Test cricket will miss him, there's no doubt about that. I'm sure he'll go out in a style that befits his quality, with a bang, with big performances, and with some stories to tell at the end."

Regardless of his immense stature in the England dressing-room, the statistics of Flintoff's recent form and impact on the Test side are not flattering. Since the 2005 Ashes, he has averaged 28.25 with the bat and 34.68 with the ball in 23 Tests (both figures down on his overall Test record of 31.69 and 32.51), and he has not managed a century or five wickets in an innings in any series since then.

Moreover, he has been unable to impose himself on matches in the same way that he did in his 2005 pomp. Although some leeway has to be made for the quality of the opponents he has faced - Flintoff has often been recuperating during low-key series in preparation for the marquee events - the statistics paint a sorry tale. In the 25 matches that Flintoff has missed since 2005, England have won 12, drawn 10 and lost on only three occasions. In the 23 matches in which he has been present, those numbers are almost exactly reversed - won 3, drawn 7, lost 13.

"Being part of an Ashes-winning team was very special, and so was beating everyone in the world for a period of time, and playing a major part in that," said Flintoff. "I'd have liked my career to kick on after that, but being a professional rehabber for two years makes it pretty difficult to do that. It would have been nice if it had carried on a bit longer, but I've no regrets. I'm happy."

Flintoff received a cortisone injection on Monday, and is sure to play through the pain if he has to. "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," he said. "I want to finish playing for England on a high and if you look at the fixtures going forward, the way my body is suggests I won't be able to get through that."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • hyperbole on July 17, 2009, 8:15 GMT

    Overweight and over-bowled, that's why Flintoff is done for. England should have managed him like SA have Kallis - made him into a number 6 who bowls very short spells. As an all-rounder, he stands in the 4th tier - Sobers is out on his own, then Both, Kapil, Imran & Hadlee, then Pollock & Kallis, then Flintoff & Cairns. He should have finished his career with 6000 runs at 40odd and 150 wickets at 27.

  • prakash2007 on July 17, 2009, 6:46 GMT

    Hey Freddie. I will be there in Chepauk to Cheer U for Chennai Super Kings... Looking forward to see u in action in Chennai... ;-) Well done..

  • cricfan49790357 on July 16, 2009, 12:38 GMT

    What a amazing Cricketer is Freddie.It is really a sad day for all of us that he is retiring from test cricket after the Aussie series,not because of the age but due to persistent injuries. We feel that his cricketing career was not handled properly by English management and on the other side he has to blame himself for taking his cricketing career too casually and to some extent due to his drinking habits.It generally happens with the gifted players.They simply do not follow the right path and lacks in discipline and dedication.Freddie's averages do not match with his enormous talent.Perhaps he is the most gifted allrounder after Ian Botham.He is having the ability to change the complexion of the match with the bat or ball . I still believe lot of cricket is there in his career,now he needs a mentor who can guide him properly in the right direction.Come on Freddie you have the guts and the talent,show it to the world, do not runaway due to small injuries. ASHOK BAMBI LUCKNOW

  • Sahilbhatias11 on July 16, 2009, 8:31 GMT

    Freddiee...we love you man.An awesum cricketer and a team man.I just love you because whenever u come..things start happening..looking forward to see u for chennai in IPL...

  • nitin_cpp on July 16, 2009, 8:06 GMT

    Those who doubt Freddie's ability based on STATISTICS let me remind you ..... Statistics are like mini-skirts .. they hide much more than what they reveal. Flintoff was an entertainer much more than he was a cricketing machine. Few cricketers of his generation or even from yester-years can rival the sheer excitement that Freddie generated whenever he came out to bat or loosened up for a bowling spell. I wont take any names but many of the statistically well accomplished players did not have that charisma which makes crowd go crazy. Remember any game exists because of the passion of the fans and this is exactly what Flintoff has done. Incite passion among the followers. Few "legends" were as good entertainers as Freddie and that's what Freddie will be remembered for .... the GREATEST ENTERTAINER OF HIS GENERATION.

  • BellCurve on July 16, 2009, 7:01 GMT

    A LEGEND, EVEN STATISTICALLY Imran Khan was a late bloomers. Botham burned out. Flintoff bloomed late and burned out. But in his mature, uninjured prime (i.e. after the summer of 2002 and before the Ashes of 2006/7) Flintoff played 41 tests, averaging 40.1 with the bat and 27.9 with the ball. How does this compare to the other modern greats? Here goes, in no particular order, the peak 41-match rolling averages for the seven great modern test cricket all rounders: Botham (bat 38.0; ball 24.8; diff 13.2); Kapil Dev (bat 33.8; ball 28.4; diff 5.4); Hadlee (bat 33.0; ball 18.4; diff 14.6); Imran Khan (bat 51.8; ball 17.6; diff 34.2); Pollock (bat 39.0; ball 19.4; diff 19.6); Kallis (bat 73.1; ball 32.9; diff 40.2); Flintoff (bat 40.1; ball 27.9; diff 12.2). What does these numbers tell us? That even statistically Flintoff can hold his head high in the most illustrious company. And this despite very poor career management.

  • KK4Cricket on July 16, 2009, 5:01 GMT

    Go Freddie Go!!!! We love to see you running in with the ball and your typical glances at the batsmen after the follow through. You made a tough but a great desicion which is good for CRICKET. CRICKET needs guys like you.

  • Subra on July 16, 2009, 3:41 GMT

    Test cricket in danger of being upstaged by the upstart T20, needs heroes like Flintoff. Don't harp on statistics, they only tell part of the story. Look around you (if you are at a ground) when Flintoff walks in to bat or takes off his sweater to bowl. Feel the hush of anticipation that hits you. I had the good fortune to watch him on a couple of occasions, and was thrilled by the magnetic force that he created. Pity only 4 more Test matches for Flintoff. I hope he goes out on a high note! Meanwhile, those of you can, savour him while you can. It will be a long time before another like him comes on stage. Farewell Flintoff. Thank you for the memories. May the rest of your life (after Tests) be just as memorable.

  • TheDoctor394 on July 16, 2009, 3:19 GMT

    While I acknowledge Andrew Flintoff's overall statistics don't put him up amongst the greatest of allrounders, I admit I'm a bit bewildered by those who use terms like "ordinary" about him. If a man plays over seventy Tests, and has a batting and bowling average (with over 200 wickets) in the low to mid-thirties, then, taken together, surely that's pretty impressive.

  • capnles on July 16, 2009, 2:43 GMT

    An an Aussie, I too would like to add to the chorus of praise for Andrew Flintoff - such a shame that injury has put a red line through the playing career of such a whole-hearted, talented, good natured cricketer who has always played in a fiercely competitive manner, but always within the spirit of the game. People point to the statistics, but his contribution to world cricket goes beyond numbers; the enduring image of Flintoff consoling Brett Lee after that painful loss in 2005 showed the marks of a man who knew how to win graciously, even when the pain of losing was never far away. Good on you Freddie - I hope you don't celebrate your impending retirement with a repeat of your enormous 2005 performance in the coming weeks.

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