Flintoff had drinking problems in Australia too
Andrew Flintoff's drinking problem during the World Cup has been written about in detail, with Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, saying that Flintoff "let him down" during the tournament. Now, further details about Flintoff's penchant for alcohol is expected to be revealed in Fletcher's new autobiography, Behind the Shades, which is likely to claim that a practice session on the tour to Australia earlier in the year had to be cancelled due to Flintoff's problem.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, the autobiography will provide details on a net session which was supposed to have been held on February 1, 2007, a day before England's penultimate round-robin match of the triangular CB Series. The practice was eventually cancelled as Flintoff had been drinking.
Ironically, England beat Australia by 92 runs the next day, breaking a run of nine successive defeats through the Ashes Tests and the one-day series that followed. Flintoff's contribution wasn't much - he scored 3 and took 1 for 47 off eight overs - but England were saved by a maiden one-day century by Ed Joyce, while Liam Plunkett and Sajid Mahmood bowled fine spells with the new ball. That win sparked off a spectacular run, with England qualifying for the final and then beating Australia twice more to lift the trophy.
According to the daily, Fletcher's book is expected to detail the discussions that were held within the team management on February 1. There was the option of going public with the incident, but the management eventually decided not to take any action. The decision seemed to have paid off when England won the CB Series but the problem resurfaced in a major way in the World Cup, with Flintoff being one of six players fined after drinking in a nightclub after losing to New Zealand and 48 hours before playing Canada. Attention focussed on Flintoff who fell off a pedalo in the early hours of the morning. He was later stripped of his vice captaincy.
The autobiography is also expected to reveal that Flintoff stayed in the Australian dressing room till midnight after England had been beaten in a demoralising second Test in Adelaide. England made 551 for 6 in their first innings, but were bundled out for 129 in the second and ultimately lost by six wickets.
Steve Harmison came to Flintoff's defence. "It's disappointing for these comments to be made," Harmison told The Daily Telegraph. "Fred tried his heart out and could not have done more for the cause in Australia. But in this cruel world there is always someone who wants to knock and have a go and I find that sad.
"We must focus on the 2009 Ashes and not hark back to what happened 12 months ago, and that is especially true of Fred. He has got a massive amount to do to get back to the player he once was and the last thing he needs is to have to deal in ancient history."