England cricket September 16, 2009

Players' chief backs Flintoff's decision

Cricinfo staff

Andrew Flintoff's decision to refuse an incremental one-day contract offered to him by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and become a freelance cricketer has been supported by the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) chief executive, Sean Morris, who said the allrounder had to "take advantage" of the "small window left in his career".

"In Andrew's case, it's a slightly unique example because over the last 10 years he's given his all to English cricket," Morris told BBC Radio Five Live. "Now he's reached a point in his career where he needs to make personal decisions that are best for him and his family.

"He is probably in a unique position because he's built his international value through performing well for England. As a result he can gain rewards for playing in Sydney or Mumbai that most other players can't."

Morris, however, believed Kevin Pietersen, England's other star cricketer likely to have international demand, wasn't likely to take a similar decision. "KP would be very much focusing on playing for England," he said. "If you speak to the current crop of England players, they still believe representing their country is the number one priority."

However Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, said Flintoff's picking and choosing his one-day assignments could have an adverse impact on England's preparations for series and tournaments. "If Fred starts picking and choosing, that's when it becomes a problem leading into a major event," Vaughan told BBC Radio's Test Match Special. "If Fred suddenly starts saying 'I won't go to Bangladesh and I won't play in the Pakistan series but I will go to Australia and go to the World Cup' - that's when it becomes dicey.

"From next summer, as a coach and a captain, you will want your best players available for the last 15 games leading into a World Cup to get your formation and your strategies all working towards winning it. If Andrew Flintoff is available for all of them, there is absolutely no problem with what he is doing."

Flintoff's IPL team, Chennai Super Kings, are thrilled the allrounder is likely to be available for the entire season. "Having someone like Freddie gives us tremendous options," VB Chandrasekhar, Chennai's cricket manager, told the Guardian. "Twenty20 is an allrounder's game, and when someone like that is fresh and can give you his full commitment, it's obviously a huge boost."

Flintoff had announced his retirement from Test cricket on the eve of the Lord's Test against Australia and had routine arthroscopy and micro-fracture to two small areas in his right knee a day after England reclaimed the Ashes at The Oval. He said he wanted to continue playing ODI and Twenty20 cricket for England and was targeting a comeback against Bangladesh in February 2010.