Exclusive: Pietersen is out of Ashes but Flintoff vows to play

Key batsman undergoes urgent surgery on injured Achilles as all-rounder pledges to see out series despite long-term effects

England's second worst fear has been confirmed. Kevin Pietersen underwent an operation on his Achilles tendon yesterday and, with an expected recovery time of six weeks, he will miss the rest of the Ashes series.

But speaking exclusively to The Independent yesterday, Andrew Flintoff underlined his own commitment and desire to be there until the end at The Oval despite the ongoing pain in his knee, suggesting he will play through injury even if it has an adverse effect on his long-term fitness after the curtain comes down on his Test career.

Nonetheless, Flintoff admitted that the news from Pietersen is a huge blow to England. "It is a big miss for us and it would be lying to say it isn't, but we're just going to have to get on with it," Flintoff said. "He's our best player who has performed well in the Ashes before and looked as though he was getting into some form. But he has been struggling for the past two weeks – it's the best thing for him to get his injury sorted and come back as quick as he can."

The decision to operate on Pietersen immediately, rather than look for another short-term fix, was taken after a leading Achilles specialist flew in from Sweden. While the announcement was expected after Pietersen spent much of the second Test in obvious discomfort and was severely restricted in movement, it now leaves England to concentrate on their worst fear.

Pietersen's departure is bad enough, but if Andrew Flintoff, who matched him hobble for hobble at Lord's, is also forced to withdraw from the third npower Test, which begins in Birmingham next week, both confidence and team structure will be badly affected after the unexpected and excellent victory at Lord's on Monday. If Pietersen must have known what was coming, it hardly eased the blow.

"As an England cricketer, the Ashes are the pinnacle of the game so I'm absolutely devastated," he said. "Up until now the Achilles injury has been manageable but it recently reached the point where we needed to look at other options in terms of treatment.

"I was pleased with the previous course of treatment as it allowed me to take part in this Ashes series but unfortunately the injury has recently deteriorated. To leave a winning dressing room at this time is heart- breaking but it wouldn't be fair to the team or myself to continue, given the severity of the injury."

The team knew as they left Lord's on Monday that their leading batsman faced grim news, but refused to acknowledge the probable outcome until it was medically confirmed. Flintoff, though, remains bullish about his own prospects despite still suffering severe twinges in his right knee. Speaking in Bolton, where he was visiting the Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy and was given a hero's welcome by 90 schoolchildren, he said he will do whatever it takes to play in the next three Ashes matches before he retires from Test cricket.

"There are no guarantees for anybody," he said. "But I have three Test matches left, and I'd do anything to get through, maybe put myself through things I wouldn't do if I was looking more long-term. I will do whatever it takes to get out on the field. If I don't it has to be something extremely serious. The encouraging thing was that I bowled regularly over 90mph at Lord's. The knee was sore on Tuesday and it's still sore but I'll rest up in front of the telly for the next few days and then get ready for Edgbaston."

Pietersen's operation involved a small incision and trimming of the blood vessels and nerves around the inflamed tendon and, according to an England and Wales Cricket Board statement, appeared to be routine. But there is no question of rushing him back. Ian Bell will almost certainly come into the side for Pietersen and the selectors must ponder whether he goes straight in at No 3 for the struggling Ravi Bopara. They are likely to decide against it because they have a larger problem in deciding who to call up as cover with several candidates including Robert Key, Stephen Moore and Jonathan Trott, none of whom is wholly convincing.

England may not lose the Ashes without Pietersen but their relief at having a 1-0 lead will have multiplied.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower