Flintoff falls flat after England's late night

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The Independent Online

Andrew Flintoff's joy at being named BBC Sports Personality of the Year was tempered yesterday as England fell to an emphatic seven-wicket defeat by Pakistan in the second one-day international here. Flintoff, who was out for a fourth-ball duck and claimed 1 for 30 when bowling, had one of his less distinguished days in an England shirt as Pakistan drew level in the five-match series.

England's preparations for the match were not ideal. Flintoff, along with those members of the team that were involved in England's Ashes victory, had their sleep interrupted in order to appear on the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year show.

Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Geraint Jones and Stephen Harmison all appeared at the beginning of the programme, an obligation that kept them from their beds until approximately 1.30am.

Flintoff remained in his room until around 2.15am and would have finally put his head down at around 3.30am. Whether he could get to sleep after collecting the most prestigious individual award in British sport is another matter.

The late night could be used as the reason for England's lacklustre performance, but those who do so are missing the point.

Sunday night was a great night for cricket in England and Wales, and it was right for the players to be involved in the celebrations. It was probably a once in a lifetime moment for Flintoff, in a career in which he will play over 200 one-day matches for England.

Pre-match nerves ensure that cricketers often play after a poor night's sleep but most of the time no one takes any interest. If performance was directly related to sleep, players would have it monitored, and any player who fails to get eight hours of shut eye dropped.

England lost, get on with the game.