Strauss hails match-winner Flintoff
England captain Andrew Strauss believes retiring Test team-mate Andrew Flintoff cannot be judged on statistics alone - and hopes there is one final match-winning display in him.
All-rounder Flintoff, 31, is this morning due to begin his 79th and final Test against Australia at the Brit Oval, where England must win to regain the Ashes.
His troublesome right knee will be assessed before England name their XI but his anticipated return will provide its usual lift in the home ranks.
“I don’t believe you rate someone purely on their stats, you rate them on their contribution to team victories and to the game of cricket,” said Strauss.
“And in those two senses Fred has been a massive player for us.
“He’s obviously a huge character as well and I don’t think the bare stats do justice to the man.
“He’s earned the right to be considered one of the best players in my generation and he’s earned it because he has put in big performances at just the right time. Hopefully he can do that once more and lead us to victory.”
Flintoff missed the defeat at Headingley Carnegie due to injury but with the Ashes still alive, Strauss wants him to bring control rather than distraction in his farewell to Test cricket.
“You play your best cricket when you are emotion-less so it’s a case of your head ruling your heart most of the time and perhaps we didn’t do that as well as we should have done at Headingley,” said Strauss.
“There are lesson to be learned from that Headingley Test.
“Clearly none of us are struggling for motivation this week, everyone is just genuinely excited about playing this game of cricket because it could be a very, very special game.
“And if we start the game well we have a good chance of putting them under a lot of pressure at the back end of the game.”
Strauss, who began with a hundred on his Test debut, has taken the time to speak to new boy Jonathan Trott about making the adjustment to the top level.
“Obviously it’s a bit of a step into the unknown for Jonathan but I think he’s got the right sort of characteristics and temperament to deal with that well,” Strauss said.
“When I made my debut I was in the form of my life, and that carried me a huge distance into the Test.
“When you are in great nick you back your game plan against anyone, and that’s where Trott is at the moment.”
Trott enters an Ashes series that has ebbed and flowed - with England scraping a draw at Cardiff, winning at Lord’s, being held at Edgbaston but defeated at Headingley.
Despite that setback in Leeds, the hosts still have a chance of completing a second successive home win over Australia.
“I am very impressed with how the guys have handled themselves over the last six or seven weeks,” said Strauss. “An Ashes series is always a difficult one to play in. It is a great honour and privilege.
“You get your high moments but when things don’t go well it is a tough series to play in and it asks a lot of questions about your temperament and your character.
“We are as tight now as we were at the start of the series and we are going to need that togetherness in these five days.”