So, Andrew Flintoff will retire from test cricket at the end of the Ashes. A shame, he is a terrific player. His qualities as a cricketer and the 2003 – 2005 purple patch, culminating in the famous Flintoff inspired Ashes win, have forged a legend that was enhanced by the reputation of being a fairly normal bloke, who liked a drink or 10, and was liable to doing daft things, like we all are.
Bowling fast is hard work, and especially hard on a big unit like Fred. You can see why he wants to go now, better go too soon and stay wanted, and the injury reasons are genuine. What is interesting, however, is that had he been 31 and at this stage in his career 10 – or even five – years ago, it is entirely possible he’d have continued fighting to get fit again, continued taking the cortisone injections, and continued putting has body through the mill, as test cricket provided the most lucrative career choice. Goughie might have done similar, but he was forced to continue on the county treadmill for a career.
Now, however, there is an alternative. He’ll continue to play limited overs cricket (probably at both county and country level), getting reasonably well paid for it, and really cash in on the IPL scene (not to mention the endorsements). Four overs a match, plus a bit of big hitting, in the shortest form of the game would be easier on his body and provide a far more substantive salary on his bank account than choosing to drop limited overs and play only the longest form. Plus he’ll get far more time at home with his family.
Big Fred has very valid reasons for his retirement, and I’ve no doubt injury is the main one. Through it, however, he has become the first big name to retire prematurely and choose to become an ODI and T20 specialist when he could have played another three or four more years Test cricket.