Flintoff great but not always professional - Vaughan
Michael Vaughan, under whose leadership Andrew Flintoff delivered a career-defining performance during the 2005 Ashes, has said Flintoff was a great player to captain but not always a professional one.
"He could be difficult at times, because he is not the most professional cricketer, but with Fred you accept the whole package," Vaughan wrote in his Daily Telegraph column. Flintoff will retire from Tests after the Oval Test but will continue to play in the shorter versions.
"To get the best out of him I used to deal with him on a one-to-one basis," Vaughan wrote. "Fred likes to be loved and he is quite soft at heart. He needs an arm around his shoulder because he does not respond to being ranted and raved at. I would just talk to him and remind him what a good player he was and the impact he could have on the game.
"I always told him to be ultra-positive when he bats because when he was batting well he had a real confidence about him. When he batted badly he would lose that and his demeanour would change. That is why he would call himself a batting allrounder. He loves batting more than he loves bowling."
However Vaughan said Flintoff was not an easy player to deal with behind the scenes. "I wouldn't agree with the theory that he was the heartbeat of the dressing room. He can be jovial and light hearted. He liked the dressing room to be a fun environment and maybe that is why his results under me were pretty good.
"It is true that great teams need great individuals. In 2005 we had two in Fred and Kevin Pietersen. But you can afford to have two individuals only as long as the other nine are solid. If you have three or four who get easily distracted by the star names then it can be a problem. But in 2005 we had strong characters who knew what was required and that allowed KP and Fred to be who they wanted to be."
Flintoff averaged 40.20 with the bat and 27.29 with the ball in 2005 and shared the Man of the Series award with Shane Warne.
Vaughan said he had his confrontations with Flintoff but the two always respected each other. "We had our ups and downs and there were times when I would think about the headaches he caused. We would have debates and confrontation but handling that is the art of captaincy … We have become very good friends and in fact speak more now than we ever did."
Vaughan said while Flintoff's overall stats - he has only five Test centuries and three five-wicket-hauls from a career of 78 Tests - were not impressive, his impact on the team went beyond figures. "I have seen at close quarters what he has brought to he England team over the last few years and also the fans don't care about stats. Also there is no stat that can tell us how many wickets he has earned the guy bowling at the other end."
Vaughan was optimistic about England's future even though he said it would be hard to replace Flintoff. "The constant talk of whether he will play or the balance of the team without him will be over. The management can concentrate on trying to gel a team. They have to decide if they need four or five bowlers and without Fred the keeper, Matt Prior, becomes a huge player. Players like Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Luke Wright, and Chris Woakes of Warwickshire have a chance. This is a great opportunity for a lot of young players but for the moment let's just enjoy one last sight of Fred."