Call this a somewhat hard-nosed, uncaring reaction if you want, but any mention of Andrew Flintoff in the press these days is accompanied, at TRSM Mansions at least, by a stifled yawn.
We’ve had the operation, the recovery, the DVT, the planning for the future and now the turned down contract.
Then we’ve had Chubby Chandler saying that Freddie is going to play for teams in, respectively Australia, South Africa, West Indies teams. Oh really? On one leg or in a wheelchair? Chandler’s bizarre statements remind me of one of Saddam Hussein’s spokesman during the Iraqi invasion, totally out of touch with reality. The guy has just had, what, his fifth surgery in the past six years, and yet here’s his agent mapping out a worldwide mercenary tour that someone fully fit and ten years younger – and with no family, would find arduous.
I hate to say it, but the ‘stifled yawn’ is rapidly heading up to dial to a more outright ‘why should I care’ reaction.
Yes - he was instrumental in England winning back the Ashes – but in the cold light of day one fantastic bowling spell at Lords, and a decent 70 at Edgbaston hardly measure up to the heights of 2005, nor the apparent heights that retrospect appears to be bestowing on the series. If I’m being picky, I’d say that the staged celebrations ever so slightly too staged – a bit too much about Freddie thinking about his place in history and not about the team.
So he’s now retired from test cricket, and is unlikely to be playing ODIs in the near future, if at all.
Maybe all this is a bit strong; maybe I should temper it slightly by saying that it’s the antics of his agent that have prompted this outburst. From promoting himself to the committee of selectors at Headingley, to mapping out a fantasy career for his client, Chandler is approaching Scott Boras in the popularity stakes of agentdom.
So ultimately I wish Freddie well – and I’m sure we’ll see him back on TV soon – some guest appearances on sports TV – and some sort of special award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shindig.
But I happen to think his cricketing days are over, the final act the immortal run out of Ponting – a dismissal right up there with Strauss’s catch of Gilchrist and Warne’s ball of the century in the Ashes pantheon.
Not a bad signing off really.