Flintoff targets one-day pinnacle
Andrew Flintoff has set his sights on becoming the world's best limited-overs player after accepting defeat in his battle with injuries and announcing his retirement from Test cricket.
The 31-year-old Lancashire all-rounder today confirmed he would retire from Test cricket at the end of the current Ashes series, admitting that the spate of problems he has suffered in the recent years have taken its toll.
Flintoff, who has a year left on his contract with Lancashire and Indian Premier League side Chennai Super Kings, hopes to continue playing one-day cricket for both sides and for England at one-day and Twenty20 international level.
He reveals the shortened format of the game will not get the adrenalin racing like an Ashes series can, but he is determined to work on his technique for 50-over and 20-over cricket to prolong his international career in those formats.
"I don't think anything can generate as much excitement as an Ashes series," admitted Flintoff. "I've enjoyed playing Test cricket but the Ashes is obviously on a different level to any other form or any other competition you play in.
"I enjoy the short form of the game and I want to be the best I can possibly can at that. I want to focus all my attention and all my energy on being the best in the world at that form of the game.
"One of the things about playing one-day cricket is that we’ve got a World Cup coming up in 2011, but I’d like to play in the one after that as well - there’s a lot of cricket left in me and there’s the focus of wanting to be the best in the world at that form of the game."
Flintoff sought advice from former England all-rounder Ian Botham, ex-captain Michael Vaughan and former team-mate Ashley Giles before coming to the momentous decision this week.
He made his announcement at the relatively young age of 31, having played 75 Tests for England over an 11-year period, claiming 212 wickets and scoring 3,658 runs, including five centuries.
"I still have enthusiasm to play one-day cricket but there is obviously sadness there and I've finally had to acknowledge where I'm at in Test cricket with regards to my body," he revealed.
"I can't grumble too much because I've played 75 Tests and if someone had said I would play that many I would have snapped their hand off.
"I started at 20 and I was rubbish and I've managed to carry on until now. I am a little upset by it because I'm only 31 but I've played a lot of cricket and I've got four more Tests to go.
"From my point of view I want to end on a high for the team. It would be nice to do it personally, but the reason for putting it out there is not so you get that (a reaction) from the crowd or anything like that, it's just letting everyone know where I'm at rather than everyone speculating."
Flintoff's decision should also ensure his availability for next year's IPL, and he is expected to be available for the Champions Trophy in South Africa this September.
He will also be keen to feature on the one-day leg of England's tour to South Africa, which comprises two Twenty20 Internationals and five one-day internationals, in November.
Before then, though, he intends to write one last glorious chapter in his Test career by helping England match their achievements in 2005 by regaining the Ashes.
"The plan is to finish with a big bang," he added. "It would be nice to finish on a high. I’ve been on an Ashes winning side before so it would be a perfect end to my Test career at the Oval.
“It’s out there and it’s a weight off my shoulders. People talk about extra incentive to perform but I’m not sure that’s necessary playing Ashes series. I can’t try and more than what I do.”