Former England coach Duncan Fletcher has accused Andrew Flintoff of turning up for a practice session in such a poor state following a night of heavy drinking on last winter's tour of Australia that he was unable to take a proper part.
In his autobiography to be published next month, and currently being serialised in a national newspaper, Fletcher claims that the then England captain was in no fit state to throw or catch the ball properly during a fielding drill ahead of a one-day international against Australia in Sydney.
Flintoff went on to lead England to a surprise victory in the three-nation one-day series, beating Australia in the final after Fletcher decided not to strip him of the captaincy. A month later, though, Flintoff had the vice-captaincy – Michael Vaughan had by then retaken the reins – taken off him and was dropped for a match after his infamous 'Fredalo' escapade in St Lucia during the World Cup. Flintoff's 'refuelling' habits have been well-documented since his celebrations after England won the Ashes two years ago, but these latest claims are a hefty blow to any hopes he might have had of leading his country again. The 29-year-old is currently recuperating the US after undergoing a third operation on his left ankle.
Steve Harmison, a close friend, said yesterday: "in this cruel world there is always someone who wants to have a go and I find that sad."