Andrew Flintoff's agent has promised in writing he will be available for all England's one-day cricket in the next year. Neither bungee jumping nor any of the myriad other television game shows and sponsorship wheezes bound to be touted will prevent Fred carrying out his patriotic duties at both training camps and matches.
Flintoff rejected the contract offered him by the England and Wales Cricket Board because he felt it would have constrained his chances of earning money outside the game. This in turn raised fears he would become a law to himself, playing if it fitted in with his schedule. Indeed, the agent, Chubby Chandler, revealed his charge wanted to go bungee jumping as part of a TV programme.
But Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, said yesterday: "I asked for a written undertaking Fred would be available for all England duties when required.
"I have received a written undertaking from his manager this will be the case and that England is his priority and I'm satisfied with that. It is then up to the selectors whether to pick him on grounds of form and fitness."
While such a letter might not legally be worth the paper it is written on, Morris was clearly concerned enough to seek it. Flintoff remains in Dubai recovering from knee surgery and the ECB are no longer footing his medical expenses. If that seems to be one potential little local difficulty resolved for Morris and England there remain other potential conflicts lying in wait connected to the Indian Premier League.
England's players who have contracts with IPL teams have been advised that, as this year, they can play in the competition for a minimum of three weeks in 2010. Participation, however, might be compromised by England's tour of Bangladesh.
England are thought likely to rest players from at least the Test leg of the Bangladesh tour, partly because of the ridiculously heavy demands of the international programme, partly to blood others with an eye on the future.
This may mean senior players such as Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood are given a tour off. But if they were then to dash off to the IPL to line their pockets it would make a nonsense of a rotation policy.
"Players will not be permitted to play in the IPL if England are playing," said Morris. "But the time is coming when we have to prioritise tours."
England will probably send a full-strength one-day team to Bangladesh next February because of the need to familiarise players with conditions before the 2011 World Cup.
Morris, in South Africa for the Champions Trophy, said Kevin Pietersen could be fit for the entire England tour of South Africa in November.Reuse content