Sport on TV: Right hook, said Fred. But where are his real 'friends'?

Andrew Flintoff seems to be looking for someone to knock some sense into him. From Lord's to the Ring (Sky 1, Thursday) documents his attempt to become a professional boxer, so at least the man who delivered bouncers at Aussie helmet badges can look forward to a career as another kind of bouncer if it all goes bottoms up.

As his mentor Barry McGuigan points out: "It's a different kind of courage than you need on the cricket field." He will also need to lose what the narrator Rafe Spall calls his "happy-go-lucky persona" and stop being so damned friendly and sportsmanlike.

Flintoff finds his tough new regime does bring out his dark side: bullied at school for wanting to play cricket instead of trying to "nick cars and take drugs"; then bullied by the media because of his weight to the point that he routinely made himself throw up after every meal. He is fighting his demons to such an extent that we might conclude this is not just another publicity campaign.

But you have to wonder how many of those around him are keeping a sense of perspective, even if the process is giving Flintoff plenty of insights into himself. It's all too reminiscent of another of the North-west's hard-partying sports heroes on an ill-advised comeback trail, Ricky Hatton.

"His friends may think he's crazy but this is no stunt," we are told, yet the fact that all Flintoff's friends are celebrities rather confuses the issue. At the start of his 18-week odyssey we hear: "Injury cut his career as a professional cricketer tragically short." Now anyone who thinks that is a proper "tragedy" deserves a punch on the nose.

Presumably some of his "friends" tried to dissuade him from trying to make it in the fight game. "He's got more chance of winning if he was to box against me," says Geoffrey Boycott, though he's not one to talk about throwing punches. Flintoff's co-star on A League of Their Own, Jamie Redknapp, would prefer to "eat his own hand" than try boxing. At least that would keep him quiet for a while. Still, are you sure we can't change your mind, Jamie?

As always, you cannot fault Flintoff's determination. But that very single-mindedness could be as much a problem as a quality. It was Flintoff's body that told him to stop playing cricket before he literally ran himself into the ground. It took a while for his head to listen.

"This is really a blank canvas," says his trainer, McGuigan's son Shane. But it isn't; there is a long back story here. Flintoff is 34, not a teenager. There might well be a rather large, Flintoff-shaped thing spreadeagled across that canvas after his fight on Friday night.

* Flintoff's Lancashire colleague Mike Atherton is the only Sky Sports pundit on the ground in India for the Test series. The lads back in the studio check in with him for reports at the close of play, or if he's busy they chat to Sourav Ganguly, who works for the host broadcaster.

Ganguly played with Flintoff and Atherton at Old Trafford, and the latter said it was like having Prince Charles in your team. Legend has it that Ganguly once asked Atherton to run off the field and fetch his sweater for him. Now that Athers is some way down the broadcasting pecking order if not the batting order, perhaps he might like a pair of boxing gloves too.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Sauce Recruitment: Programme Sales Executive - Independent Distributor

£25000 - £28000 per annum + circa 28K + 20% bonus opportunity: Sauce Recruitme...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Are you an ambitious, money mot...

Guru Careers: Investment Writer / Stock Picker

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A freelance Investment Writer / Stock Picker ...

Guru Careers: PPC Account Executive / Paid Search Executive

£20 - 24K + Benefits: Guru Careers: An enthusiastic PPC Account / Paid Search ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project