Alexa

Flintoff relishes prospect of normal life

Flintoff relishes prospect of normal life

While some high-profile athletes struggle to adapt to life away from the limelight after retirement, England's retiring test cricketer Andrew Flintoff is relishing the prospect of no longer being the crowd's favourite.
"It is quite a nice time for me to finish," Flintoff told reporters Monday before the second knee operation that hastened his exit. "The kids are coming to an age where they need their dad around and I am going to be there for them.
"Bitter sweet as it is finishing test cricket through injury, the one thing I am excited about is being at home. I am not going to get people shouting 'Super Fred' when I'm doing the school run. That is far more important than pinging a few down in a test."
Flintoff, 31, intends continuing his one-day career with England as far into the future as the 2015 World Cup but it has been test matches that have brought his greatest moments, like being man of the series when winning the Ashes in 2005 and during a second Ashes win on Sunday.
He was England's most successful all-rounder since Ian Botham reigned throughout the 1970s and 80s. His explosive batting, hostile fast bowling and sometimes inspirational fielding such as the run out of Australia captain Ricky Ponting on Sunday endeared him to crowds around the world.
This type of superhero behavior helped earn him an unprecedented $1.55 million contract this year with Indian Premier League team Chennai.
However, despite his entertaining qualities and talent, his statistics with batting and bowling averages hovering around the 30 mark from 79 tests would not suggest he is a 'great.' He was certainly a matchwinner, but he would prefer his legacy be more about the man than greatness as a player anyway.
"I would rather be regarded as a decent bloke rather than any sort of cricketer I might have been _ that is far more important to me," said Flintoff. "Whatever you do on the cricket field is one thing but being able to face yourself in the mirroreverydayy and say 'You're not a bad egg' that is far more important."
He added: "I don't think I ever achieved greatness and I don't profess to. That's the Bothams, the (Garfield) Sobers, the Imran Khans, the (Sachin) Tendulkars, the Ricky Pontings who achieved greatness.
"I have performed a few times and I am proud to have done that. For the bulk of my career I have played through pain and with injury so to be out on the field was an achievement in some ways. So greatness? No. I played in a team which performed and I'm happy with myself and proud."
More ruthlessness and selfishness as a player may have bettered his statistics but, as he said, he wanted to retire with "a few friends".
Flintoff's only equal in the England side in terms of media appeal was batsman Kevin Pietersen, who is liked but not loved by the English public as Flintoff is. The polished and clean-cut Pietersen is comfortable in front of flashing camera bulbs while Flintoff is more of a rough diamond.
Flintoff celebrated the 2005 Ashes win harder than most, appearing on news clips visibly affected by alcohol. He lost the vice-captaincy of the team during the 2007 World Cup for a late night drinking session two days before a match.
He was warned before the third test as recently as last month for missing the team bus on a team-building trip in Belgium, the morning after a function. Such episodes lost him favor with officials but endeared him to the public.
The chanting of his nickname "Freddie" will be missing from future tests and if the man has anything to do with it, he will be in the crowd with them from here on.
"(My relationship with the public) is something I enjoy - when you walk out onto the field it is almost like being someone else for a day," he added. "I enjoy the crowd I enjoy being part of it all but it is not a reflection on what I am like at home.
"If I was not on the field I would be sat next to them _ I would be in the thick of the Barmy Army with a pint and singing away with the rest of them.
"Ultimately I play cricket for England but I am an England fan as well _ I can identify with the crowd and they identify with me. It is a game that needs to keep that, players need to keep in touch with the people and I am sure they will do, long may it last."


Updated : 2021-04-18 23:57 GMT+08:00