Flintoff heads for theatre as the curtain falls on Test career

All-rounder set for knee surgery after admitting falling short of greatness

Andrew Flintoff, who was due to have knee surgery last night having cut ties with Test matches following England's Ashes victory, conceded yesterday that he fell short of greatness as a player in the five-day game.

The 31-year-old was due to see his surgeon Andy Williams in London 24 hours after leaving Tests amid the euphoria of a second home series victory over Australia. He will have an arthroscopy on his right knee and is as yet unsure as to how long his latest spell of rehabilitation will be.

However, looking back on a 79-Test career Flintoff insisted he failed to reach the top ranks. "I have never achieved greatness and I don't profess to," he said. "That's the Bothams, the Sobers, the Imran Khans, the Tendulkars, the Pontings, who achieved greatness over a long period of time, playing Test after Test after Test.

"I have performed at times and I am proud to have done that. For the bulk of my career I have played through pain and with injury, so to be out on the field was an achievement in some ways – but as for greatness? No."

Only when the damage in his knee has been assessed will the extent of his lay-off be established. "The reason I am having [the operation] is so I can play international cricket," said Flintoff. "However, not until I wake up, will I know the extent of what the surgeon's done. I can't get any guarantees but I wanted him to tell me what it would be like afterwards. Having spoken to him, I am confident I will get back on a cricket field. You talk about incentives and there is no bigger incentive than to play for England."

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