The decision by Andrew Flintoff to reject the ‘increment contract’ offer made by the ECB to him has created an unique situation for the ECB and Andy Flower.
Looking in from the outside the situation looks to be a delicate one. On one hand you have got a verbal commitment from Flintoff stating his desire to continue playing ODI and T20 cricket for England, even a pledge to still be playing come the 2015 World Cup.
Then you have those masters of handling delicate situations, the ECB. Who knows what grenades Giles Clarke and his friends will throw in over the next few says. They might do well to keep quiet and wait until the dust settles and have a meeting to spell out their expectations of Flintoff and to try to thrash out a way forward for all.
Andrew Strauss it would appear has left the door open for him, he knows only too well how bad England’s One Day team is and the need to retain the services of Flintoff. As a friend as well it is unlikely that Strauss would want him out unless the situation became untenable for them both.
Andy Flower is the interesting character and could be key in all this for me. He has given the impression that he wants full control over his players and has already stated that his players have only a three week window to play in the 45 day IPL next season – quite how well he might take to a player who participates in the whole tournament could be interesting.
It would be expected that once Flintoff puts a lucrative Twenty20 or other deal ahead of playing for England that it would spell the end of his international career – and rightly so. Andy Flower, who strikes me as an organiser and a meticulous forward planner might not want such a player, who in his opinion might be continually only one game away from his last international appearance as part of his plans for the future.
Given that his current and future sponsorship deals do and probably will depend on his playing for England it could be expected that Flintoff won’t jump ship any time soon, if this is good enough for Andy Flower remains to be seen.
One thing is for certain, England clearly need Flintoff in the ODI and T20 set ups at the moment. It looks like the best thing that could happen is that all parties sit down together and sort things out, all this drip feed of information to the media only seems to create uncertainty and the potential for a misunderstanding to occur.
Flintoff has had an uneasy relationship with the ECB over recent years regarding – mainly – disciplinary reasons, the last thing England now needs is a major falling out with him over a stupid misunderstanding caused by creative journalism.