Flintoff to retire from test cricket at end of Ashes series
Andrew Flintoff’s decision to quit playing Test cricket at the end of this summers Ashes series might not be the massive blow that a lot of England fans seem to think it is. As an all-round cricketer Flintoff never managed to reproduce the Ashes form of 2005 again and has since played in fits and spurts, missing two of the four years with injuries.
It seems the toll of continuous operations and injections to his body has finally worn him down and he has decided to follow the one day route rather than quitting one day cricket to concentrate on tests. The continues strain and pressure of his bowling action would appear to be damaging his knee now in addition to the well documented ankle problems of the past. If he had carried on doing this to his joints who knows what health problems he might face later in life.
As one of the best fast bowlers around and a great slip fielder he will be missed, from the point of view of the bowling unit as a whole it might not be the worst outcome and from a batting point of view it could make England stronger.
The fact is that the bowling unit now will have to take more responsibility instead of relying on Flintoff. When things are tight and England need a wicket, the captain will no longer be able to throw the ball to Flintoff – and in doing so undermine the rest of the bowling unit. They will have to be big enough themselves in future to deliver the goods. As a group they seem to be in Flintoff’s shadow all the time, maybe now they will grow in confidence instead of bowling with the thought in the back of their minds that the captain is going to take the ball off them because he needs Freddie to get a wicket.
As a bowler he has been top class and must be one of the most feared in the world, who can forget the way he worked over Jaques Kallis at Edgbaston just last year.
Although the stats don’t really back that up – his last 5 wicket haul was in 2005 – the fact is that at times he has been operating as a one man bowling attack meaning batsmen can just survive his overs before taking the easy pickings of the other bowlers. In cricketing terms, his bowling has also taken many wickets at the other end.
He won’t really be missed in the batting with Matt Prior now filling the all-rounder slot at number 6 and Stuart Broad showing he is well on his way to becoming a competent number 7 as well. With Graeme Swann’s batting looking in good shape and the potential being shown by Adil Rashid the batting will be no worse off by Flintoff’s test departure.
It has been his batting that has been his biggest disappointment, since 2005-6 his batting has been more of a tail-enders. The excuses always reeled out from most of the pundits like he needed time to find his rhythm, or time in the middle, when he was coming back from injury started to wear a bit thin after numerous times getting caught in the deep trying to hit bowlers out of the ground with ridiculous shots and bad shot selections at the wrong times of matches.
With a tricky 4 Test tour of South Africa to come in December and January where I think it’s safe to say England will have long spells in the field, I don’t think the fact was lost on Flintoff that he would probably be bowling the majority of England’s overs in a more than likely hopeless situation.
I have no doubt that this has had a bearing on his decision as if he where to play in this South Africa series and come back crocked and miss the final year of his IPL contract with Chennai Super Kings it might be the last contract he gets, at least this way he gives himself a better chance of being fit to play and perhaps earn another new contract- this is not meant as a criticism of Flintoff and is a lifestyle choice he is entitled to make after years of punishing his body for England’s cause.
Those who choose to criticize this decision I can see your point. It could be argued that if he quit all forms of one day cricket and concentrated on just playing tests his body might be able to manage. The route he has chosen to take is undoubtedly a financial one but surely no one could begrudge him that privilege as this is a man who has put his body on the line for England many times and surely deserves the chance to cash in on his all-round skills.
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