Andrew Flintoff retires from cricket

Andrew Flintoff admitted the news he has been forced to retire from cricket has not sunk in.

The all-rounder, who has not played since the final Ashes Test last summer and has seen a number of return dates come and go in his fight to overcome a chronic knee problem, was told his body would not be able to cope with his planned comeback.

Flintoff had initially planned to play for Lancashire this summer and was reportedly in negotiations to play domestic Twenty20 cricket in Australia and New Zealand, but he has now accepted his professional career is over.

"I had a scan at the beginning of the week which confirmed what I suspected - that the knee wasn't quite right and I had a meeting in Glasgow yesterday with the surgeon," Flintoff told Sky Sports News.

"He just confirmed that the operation I had 12 months ago has been fine but not good enough to start playing cricket again.

"Although I was hopeful of playing a few weeks ago for Lancashire second team, in my own mind I wasn't quite right.

"I'm not quite sure it's sunk in. I think it's going to take a while. The decision's been made for me. In some ways it's good it is the end of the season so I can almost pretend I'm going to start playing next year.

"It's going to be difficult, it's something I've done professionally for nearly 17 years. Since I was a kid all I've wanted was to play cricket."

Flintoff added: "I really thought I'd have another two or three years playing at Lancashire especially. But it's just not to be.

"There was always that hope I was going to get back so there was always something to work for. Whether it was the three years of rehab that I've been doing over the past five, the carrot at the end of it was that I'd get back in the dressing room, get back out on the cricket field and have the chance to represent firstly Lancashire and then England. That's gone now. I'm no longer a cricketer. It's something I'm going to have to deal with.

"I'm going to go back to Dubai and spend time with my family, re-assess and look at my options and see where it takes me."

He admitted, though, there was a certain sense of relief that a decision had been made one way or the other.

"I suppose in some ways going and seeing the surgeon I wanted a decision either way," he added on Sky Sports News.

"I wanted him to say 'you're going to be fine, do your rehab, I'll get you playing again in January'. That would have been the ideal scenario. Or say 'your knee's no good, do something else'.

"I think it would have been hard if it had been a 50-50 decision or 60-40 in my favour. Because at this point in my life I can't wait around and the sides that I play for can't wait around for ever.

"I've got to focus my energy into something else and build a new career which at 32, nearly 33, could be the longest career I have."