Flintoff says Ashes victory would surpass 2005

Andrew Flintoff is preparing to put his body on the line one last time in pursuit of a victory he believes will put even his great deeds of 2005 in the shade.

Win, lose or draw in the Ashes decider at The Brit Oval, Flintoff has long decided the match starting on Thursday will be his final Test.

Whether or not England prevail against the odds after all - they must win to regain the urn 2-1, while a draw will do for Australia - Flintoff will then embark solely on a limited-overs career.

It has been suggested the 31-year-old may need more surgery on the chronic injury to his right knee but, barring an unmanageable recurrence of swelling in the joint after bowling in the nets today or tomorrow, he is determined to go through the pain - and consider the consequences later.

"If we won this one it would be a far greater achievement than 2005," said Flintoff, recalling England's shock success four years ago which ended a generation of Ashes failure.

"That was fantastic. But the side had performed well over a period of time, beaten everyone in the world - and we came in against Australia expecting to win.

"I'm not saying we're not doing that this time, but the side's gone through a lot over the past 12 months and has changed a hell of a lot."

A strange series has resulted, in which each team have taken their turn to dominate - never more so than Australia when they levelled the series with an innings-and-80-run demolition of their hosts in the fourth npower Test at Headingley. "We've got young players who've never played in the Ashes," Flintoff points out.

"From my point of view, with the injuries I've gone through to be here, this will be a far greater achievement (than 2005)."

Flintoff knows he must address his post-Ashes injury prognosis soon - but he will not be doing so until next Tuesday at the earliest.

"I must put that to the back of my mind," he insists.

"Then after the Test match, I'll probably go and see the specialist again and look at a longer-term plan.

"But at this moment in time, it's all about playing for five days and then worrying about it if I need to once it's all over."

Flintoff was an absentee from England's crushing defeat in Leeds 10 days ago, when a last-minute decision was taken that his knee injury was too bad to risk.

Speaking today for the first time about his omission, Flintoff confirmed captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower made the call - and although disappointed, he accepted what they said.

"I would have loved to have played, obviously," "But you respect the decision.

"The coach and captain have a job to do. Sometimes, in professional sport, there are some hard decisions for them to make - and as a player, sometimes they are hard to take.

"But you move on, and I'm just pleased to be here now - with an opportunity to play on Thursday.

"It was a tough decision all round. I would have played in the position I was in at that time.

"But Andrew decided that was not at an acceptable level, so it's the sort of thing you've got to get on with."

Flintoff reports his body is in better shape now than it was before Headingley - and he is therefore optimistic he will be part of England's late bid to sneak the Ashes.

"I think the back-to-back Test matches obviously contributed to it going downhill a bit," he said of his knee injury.

"But having not done too much on it in the past week or so, I'm probably in a better position now.

"Since then, I've just been trying to get right for this one here - which is going to be an unbelievably good game.

"I'm confident I'll be all right.

"I'm sure there will be an element of swelling (after bowling in the nets). But as long as it's not too bad, it can be managed."

As for the Leeds debacle, Flintoff felt the setback just as hard as if he had been involved on the pitch - but believes England have recovered their composure in time.

"It was disappointing all round, not just for me," he said.

"But that's happened, and I think having a week off has probably worked in our favour.

"I think it would have been tough if it had been back-to-back matches - having been beaten like that.

"It's not the first time we've not played too well, but we seem to always bounce back well - so I don't expect any different in this match."

The stakes, Flintoff acknowledges, simply could not be higher.

"This is the biggest Test I'll ever play - not just because it's my last but because the position of the series," he reasons.

Asked if a win will cap his career, he responded: "Of course, it would. A loss would probably ruin it.

"It's a great opportunity for anyone going out there to take the series by the scruff of the neck and put in a match-winning performance."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever