Andrew Flintoff: under the spotlight © Getty Images
Andrew Flintoff has been sacked as England's vice-captain and will not now take over the leadership in the event of an injury to Michael Vaughan. The announcement was made after Flintoff had been dropped for England's must-win World Cup encounter against Canada, after allegedly capsizing a pedalo at 4am in the morning after the defeat against New Zealand on Saturday.

Flintoff later apologised for his actions: "I know that what I did on Friday night was completely wrong and I have to take full responsibility for it," he said. "There can be no excuses on my part. I know I shouldn't have done what I did and I have to accept the punishment.

"To my team-mates and the England supporters that I let down, all I can say is that I am extremely sorry and assure everyone that I will be giving 110 per cent for England for the rest of this tournament."

An earlier statement confirmed he would not no longer be England's No. 2: "The England & Wales Cricket Board have announced that Andrew Flintoff will not be considered for the England captaincy should Michael Vaughan be injured at any stage during the World Cup."

Flintoff was one of several members of the squad to be fined for a "breach of team discipline" in the aftermath of that match, although the other players alleged to have been involved were named against Canada. Ravi Bopara, the young Essex allrounder, stepped into Flintoff's role for his second ODI, and first World Cup outing.

"Andrew Flintoff has been given warnings about his conduct and disciplined for previous incidents of this nature," said England's coach, Duncan Fletcher. "In light of this and due to the serious nature of the incident which he was involved in at the hotel on Friday night, we have decided to take further disciplinary action against him.

"Andrew has been made fully aware of the team management's concerns and the fact that the ECB considers this type of behaviour to be totally unacceptable. He will remain with the World Cup squad and be available for selection for our next match against Kenya.

"All players involved wish to express their sincere regret for the embarrassment caused to their team mates, the England supporters and the ECB."

England's management had initially refused to speculate on a report in Sunday's News of the World, under a back-page headline of "Sunk' n' Drunk - Freddie fined after pedalo booze shame", that stated that Flintoff had toppled into the water after a late-night drinking session at the Rumours Nightclub near England's team hotel in St Lucia. Fans who witnessed events contacted several British newspapers to tell them what they'd seen.

Nasser Hussain, Flintoff's former captain, praised England's management for their hard-line stance on Flintoff's antics. "There is a history to this story," Hussain told Sky Sports. "It is not the first time. In Australia he had three or four warnings about his drinking. The management felt enough is enough. At some stage you have to have some strong management, even with your best cricketer. Well done England for finally for having some strong management."

David Collier, the ECB's chief executive, was also severely critical of the England team's behaviour. "The conduct of the players who have been disciplined was unacceptable and falls below the high standards of behaviour required of England cricketers. We fully support the England team management's decision to deal with this issue promptly and fines levied on the players concerned will be donated to the Cricket Foundation's charity, Chance to Shine."