Flintoff was fit for Headingley, says agent
The Times has reported that Andrew Flintoff had declared himself fit for the fourth Ashes Test only to be overlooked by England's captain and coach. At the Headingley post-match presentation, Michael Atherton - who wrote the story in the Times - asked Andrew Strauss who was responsible for not picking Flintoff and the answer was Strauss and Andy Flower.
According to Andrew Chandler, Flintoff's agent, England did not want to gamble after the allrounder failed to allay fears over his knee injury. "I've seen a few disappointed sportsmen over the last couple of months but I've never seen anybody as low as Flintoff was on Thursday night when he was told he would not be selected," Chandler told the Times. "He told them that he was fit enough to get through, that he felt no different to how he felt at Edgbaston and that he could get through and do his bit. They didn't want him.
"He was prepared to do whatever it takes, was prepared to put whatever needed to be put into his knee. The whole point of announcing his retirement when he did was to clear his head and prepare to do whatever needed to be done to play the final Test matches of his career.
"He [Flintoff] just didn't see it coming. He wanted to play and they didn't want him, and he didn't see that coming at all."
Chandler said Flintoff could have played through the pain barrier purely on adrenaline, as he did at Lord's for a match-winning performance. "What they didn't take into account during Thursday's practice was that there was no adrenalin," he said. "That was why he looked as though he was struggling so much and why he became so much worse on the final day at Edgbaston, when it was clear the game could not be won.
"He was hurting at Lord's but the adrenalin got him through. It would have got him through this week as well. His presence would certainly have lifted the crowd and the team, because without him they don't have much inspiration."
However Geoff Miller, the national selector, has defended the decision not to pick Flintoff, insisting that he and the selectors had to listen to the medical advice they were offered. "We had to guarantee that Fred could do the job required to bowl the overs," Miller told BBC Radio Five Live. "We'd been monitoring his injury day by day and the selectors felt that it was better that he didn't play in that game. Yes, he might have thought he was fit to do a certain job but we had to work out whether he'd be fit to do a constant job, meaning bowl the amount of overs required to get the 20 wickets.
"We have to go on the medical advice. We know that Freddie's passionate to play for England, I accept that, but there are a lot of other ideals we have to work to, such as taking medical advice. If the medics say there's still a problem there, then we have to accept what their viewpoint is."
Australia's captain Ricky Ponting had said before the fourth Test that England would be taking a massive gamble if they risked playing a half-fit Flintoff.