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Andrew Flintoff turned up to a practice session on the last Ashes tour 'still under the influence of alcohol' and 'in such a state that he could not throw properly' according to his coach, Duncan Fletcher, in his forthcoming autobiography, Behind the Shades.
Serialised in the Daily Mail, Fletcher's book has exposed Flintoff's drinking as being out of control during England's tour of Australia last winter, never more so than in the one-day series following the Tests.
"It came to my attention that, after one of the one-day matches, Flintoff had spent the whole night drinking with Ian Botham and had only got to bed at 7am the following morning," Fletcher wrote. "We went to Sydney for a vital match against Australia and a fielding practice was arranged for 10am.
"Flintoff turned up still under the influence of alcohol. We were doing one drill called the 'cut and pull' with two groups either side of me, requiring an accurate throw from one side so that I could cut.
"Flintoff was in such a state that he could not throw properly. He had to pass the ball to the bloke next to him to do so."
Ironically England won that game, though a fuming Fletcher challenged Flintoff and asked him: "Why should I not drop you as England captain?" Flintoff didn't respond and after "stewing in his room all day" Fletcher decided against dropping him.
Fletcher also admits that he had doubts about selecting Flintoff as captain for the Ashes, ahead of Andrew Strauss who he believed was Michael Vaughan's "natural successor".
"Yes, he is a fine cricketer and would be influential in any side, but the areas which concerned me were his tactical nous and man management under pressure," Fletcher said. "And there was always going to be a worry about his self-discipline.
"Sadly, I was soon to discover he was unsure of what true leadership is."
Flintoff, who denies he has a drink problem, hasn't commented on Fletcher's revelations and is spending seven weeks in America recuperating from his third ankle operation.