Andrew Flintoff calls time on playing career
London: England`s Andrew Flintoff, regarded as one of the finest all-rounders of the game, today announced his retirement from international cricket, bringing down the curtains on a 12-year career which was marked by nagging injuries and controversies.
The 32-year-old Flintoff, who had announced his retirement from Test cricket after the 2009 Ashes triumph in the Oval Test, decided to quit all forms of the game with immediate effect because of a long-standing knee injury.
Flintoff, who played 79 Tests and compiled 3845 runs (ave 31.77) and claimed 226 wickets, was considered one of the most talented cricketers to emerge from England in recent times though there were some critic who felt he did not justify his immense potential.
In 141 one-dayers, Flintoff scored 3394 runs (ave 32.01) and took 169 wickets while he featured in seven Twenty20s claiming five scalps.
His achievements in the cricket field were at times overshadowed by a series of controversies, which ranged from waving his shirt during England`s 2001-02 India tour to the infamous pedalo incident during the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.
After quitting Test cricket, Flintoff underwent a series of knee surgeries and hoped to return to action this season, but that was ruled out last month.
The Lancashire cricketer then aimed for Twenty20 stints in Australia and the Indian Premier League, where he plays for Chennai Superkings.
But Flintoff didn`t have any option but to quit after the latest meeting with his surgeon, who told him that his body won`t be able to stand the wear and tear of cricket any more.
"It is with both disappointment and sadness that I am today announcing my retirement from all forms of cricket," said Flintoff.
"The decision to end my career came yesterday after consultation with medical advisers. I was told that the problems I have been trying to overcome in re-hab for the last year following the latest in a series of operations would not recover sufficiently to allow a comeback.”
"Having been told that my body would no longer stand up to the rigours of cricket, I had no alternative but to retire," he added.
Flintoff said he would take a break before deciding his future engagements.
"I would like to thank my family, Lancashire Cricket Club, England, all my sponsors, friends and advisers for all the help and support they have given me throughout my career.”
"Last, but by no means least, I am indebted to the encouragement and support I have always received from England`s magnificent supporters. I will now be taking a break before deciding which future direction to take," he said.
Flintoff made his Test debut in 1998 against South Africa at Trent Bridge. In 2000 he hit 135 in the quarterfinals of the Natwest Trophy against Surrey. But his fitness started becoming an issue with England`s management making it clear they were unhappy with his weight.
Flintoff soon responded with a 42 not out in a ODI match against Zimbabwe on his home ground at Old Trafford and collected the Man of the Match award.
In 2001, he lost his England place but he remodelled his bowling action and gained a place on the 2001?02 India tour. He flopped with the bat during the Tests, but the ODI series proved to be a turninng point in his career.
Entrusted with bowling the final over with India needing 11 to win, he ran out Anil Kumble and bowled Javagal Srinath with successive balls to win the match and took off his shirt in celebration, his was repeated by former India skipper Sourav Ganguly at Lords during the NatWest series.
In 2002 he also scored his maiden Test century but by the end of the year, averaged just 19 with the bat and 47 with the ball.
In the summer of 2003, Flintoff scored a century and three fifties in the five-Test series against South Africa at home, and continued to excel on the tour of the West Indies in March and April 2004 and was named as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year.
Although injury prevented him from bowling, he was called into the England squad as a specialist batsman for the 2004 NatWest ODI Series against New Zealand and the West Indies and he responded by scoring two consecutive centuries in the series and hitting seven sixes in one innings.
In February 2006, Flintoff was named captain of the England team for the first Test match against India. His contributions with both bat and ball ensured that he was named as the player of the series.
Flintoff continued to captain England during the seven ODIs in India, although he was rested for two matches. But a recurrence of his long-term ankle problem in May 2006 forced him to miss both the ODI series against Sri Lanka and the first Test against Pakistan.
He was thus ruled out for the entire series against Pakistan after it was learnt that Flintoff`s rehabiltation had not been sufficient to quell the injury, and that further surgery would be required.
Despite injury concerns, Flintoff was later named for the ICC Champions Trophy, where he played as a specialist batsman, not as an all-rounder.
The zenith of Flintoff`s career was the 2005 Ashes, in which he starred with bat and ball to topple the Australians and win back the urn after an 18-year hiatus.
Flintoff returned as captain of the England team for the 2006-07 Ashes series in Australia but it turned out to be a humiliating one as his side suffered five straight losses and thus lost the Ashes.
Flintoff was also no stranger to controversies and was once involved in an incident with water and a pedalo.
After England`s loss to New Zealand in the 2007 World Cup, Flintoff fell off a pedalo and got into difficulties in the water early on Saturday morning following a drinking session. He was soon sacked as England vice-captain and banned for the Canada World Cup game.
In February 2009, the Chennai Super Kings of the Indian Premier League bought Flintoff for USD 1,550,000, making him the highest-ever-paid IPL player, alongside compatriot Kevin Pietersen.
However, Flintoff did not find success at the tournament, held in South Africa after the Mumbai attacks, as after a difficult first few matches he was sent home for surgery following another knee injury.