Flintoff feels the pain
Andrew Flintoff admitted suffering pangs of jealousy as he sat on the sidelines watching England beat New Zealand at his beloved Old Trafford this week.
The 30-year-old all-rounder had hoped to feature in the three-Test series, particularly as the second npower Test is the last at Old Trafford until 2012.
But an untimely side strain suffered while bowling against Durham three weeks ago ruled Flintoff out of the Test series, and he admits he may not be fit in time for the one-day series, which begins with a Twenty20 international at Old Trafford on June 13.
It was a desperate blow for a player who has fought his way back to full fitness following a fourth operation on his left ankle, and was approaching his best with the ball for Lancashire in the early stages of the season.
The moment his last injury setback really hit home, however, was last Friday at Old Trafford watching the opening day of the second Test as England struggled to make inroads into New Zealand’s line-up.
“I’ve popped into Old Trafford a few times and I’ve found it frustrating, probably more so at Old Trafford,” admitted Flintoff.
“I went down there on Friday and had lunch in one of the boxes and I wasn’t enjoying it, to be honest. We were playing a Test on my home ground and I wasn’t involved.
“Probably for the first time there’s a little bit of jealousy because I wanted desperately to be out there and playing.
“It’s been a bit of a struggle for me this last week and I haven’t seen a great deal but I’ve got a lot on at home with the family and trying to get fit.”
Flintoff used his trip to Old Trafford to catch up with national selector Geoff Miller and coach Peter Moores, but admitted even a short trip to the dressing room during the Test was difficult for him because he was not part of the team.
“I went in the dressing room but you’re always wary of over-staying your welcome,” he conceded. “They’ve got a job to do and they don’t want people hanging around.
“There’s a lot of people in there anyway without me being there so I did a bit of physio, stayed five or 10 minutes and then popped out.”
Flintoff is only halfway through a six-week recovery programme which would deny him any competitive cricket until the latter end of Lancashire’s Twenty20 Cup group games during the last 10 days of June.
He will then only have one championship match against Sussex at Hove before the selectors meet again ahead of the opening Test against South Africa at Lord’s on July 10.
“I was bowling probably as well as I have done,” said Flintoff, referring to his form before the side injury. “My pace was up, my control was there, which I like to have, and my fitness was great.
“I think having such a long lay-off from bowling and coming back in, I would have been lucky to get away with nothing happening. It’s unfortunate this has happened, but it could have been a lot worse and my ankle is fine.”
He stressed: “From having the operation in October, getting back playing for Lancashire was one thing but you set your sights on playing for England and playing in a Lord’s Test match.
“Obviously the following week there was the Old Trafford Test match and there’s not going to be one here for another few years, so it was very frustrating and initially I was down.
“But there’s nothing you can do and you have to have a bit of perspective on things because everything else is fine. I just have a dodgy side for a bit.”
Flintoff has been unable to do much training because of the injury and has been waiting to get the green light from physio Dave Roberts to allow him to start playing again.
“I’ve been working with Dave Roberts again but it’s something that’s going to take time,” he explained. “We’re judging it day-by-day but I don’t know when I’m going to play again.”