Commitment hasn't wavered - Flintoff
Andrew Flintoff has reiterated that nothing will get in the way of him playing one-day cricket for England.
Flintoff, 31, is in a period of reflection and convalescence, having made the decision to retire from Test cricket due to a chronic knee injury.
The Lancashire all-rounder turned down the offer of an increment contract by the ECB, but is keen to stress that his commitment to England, when fit, has not changed.
After hobbling into a London hotel on crutches, four weeks after undergoing an operation on the damaged knee which forced him to quit Test cricket, he said: “I’m available for every England game. Twenty20s and one-day internationals, just not Test matches.
“England come first, closely followed by Lancashire. I’d choose England over everything. If it clashed with the IPL (Indian Premier League), I’d play for England. England is what I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid.
“I don’t know how long left I’ve got doing it, so I want to play every game I can do.”
Flintoff remains contracted to Lancashire for another 12 months and has a contract with Chennai Super Kings in the 2010 IPL.
Flintoff explained why he chose not to sign the ECB’s contract for 2009-10: “One of the reasons is that I’m 31 and I know my body and when I can and can’t play.
“I still have some personal ambition. If the opportunity arose to play in Australia I’d love to do that. I wanted to go when I was younger.
“I’ve seen a lot of cricketers come to the end of their careers. It creeps up on them and they have nothing to do. I want to forge another career as well.
“I’ve got three kids and a family so I want to provide for them. I want to work and didn’t want any restraints over that. But I’m available for every England game and you can give me every scenario, but provided I’m fit and not on crutches I’m ready to go.”
Flintoff, who has been recuperating in Dubai, admits he might also do some coaching in the United Arab Emirates.
“I’ve offered my services if I can help anywhere along the line. Not on an employment basis, just try to help,” he said.
“I don’t think I’d be a very good coach on a day-to-day basis.”
Flintoff also admitted he had taken the field too often when he should not have done.
He said: “I’ve had anti-inflammatories inside me, jabs in my backside. I was on the field thinking ’What am I doing here? Am I going to get through this game?’
“The more I did it the more I felt I could get through it. The moment you stop is worse.
“Some of the mornings the missus had to get me out of bed and put my shoes and socks on to get me in the car to go to the ground. But the reason I do it is because I love it.”
It was all made worthwhile on the last morning of the Lord’s npower Ashes Test this summer when his five wickets gave England the lead in the series.
Flintoff said: “At certain points in my career I’ve had lots of self-doubt, but there are times when you think you can do anything. That was one of those mornings.
“I turned up to the ground with some weird excitement. I couldn’t shut up. I was everywhere doing everything.
“I just thought it’s going to happen today. When it’s like that it’s amazing and you do stupid things like that celebration.”
The image, down on one knee, arms outstretched, adorns the front cover of his book ’Ashes to Ashes’ (Hodder & Stoughton) which was launched today and tells Flintoff’s incredible story.
Flintoff also allows himself to remember the spectacular run-out of Australia captain Ricky Ponting which effectively sealed the Ashes at the Brit Oval. He smiles at the memory but has come to terms with the fact his Test days are over.
“England and myself need to move on,” said Flintoff. “We’ve got players like Broady (Stuart Broad) who will be a lot better than I’ve been. Move on.”