One of the enduring images which accompanied England's 2005 Ashes triumph was of Andrew Flintoff's heroic bender. Should the team somehow repeat the feat at The Oval in the coming days, it is unlikely that their all-rounder will be able to do likewise.
Rather than drinking for England, and indeed the Rest of the World, to celebrate as he did four years ago, Flintoff will have to board a plane for Belfast. In another outstanding example of bizarre scheduling, England have agreed to play a one-day international against Ireland only three days after the decisive fifth npower Test which also marks the end of Flintoff's Test career.
Flintoff was yesterday named in the squad for the game – together with six other members of the squad for the Ashes match – and for all England's other imminent limited overs assignments. It is a sure indication that the selectors have taken him at his word: that although he is finishing with Tests, he intends to become the best one-day cricketer in the world.
By picking Flintoff, despite his dodgy knee, for Ireland, for the two Twenty20 matches and the seven ODIs against Australia which follow and for the Champions Trophy against South Africa, the selectors are giving him every opportunity.
"I hope there is no wishful thinking," said Geoff Miller, the National Selector. "He is retiring from Test cricket so his focus is going to be on one-day cricket and we're hoping he will play as many as possible because that's what he has designated himself for.
"We're trying to build a squad and a side so that people are comfortable about where they play. We know what Andrew is capable of and he knows what he's capable of. If we have to monitor Andrew day by day we will do that. But at the moment he's in our squad and an integral part of our side."
England picked one debutant in the squads, Joe Denly of Kent. Denly has been on the selectors' radar for some time as a regular part of England Lions teams and has the additional benefits of being only 23 and having learned his cricket in England.
"He's an exciting prospect," said Miller. "We have monitored him very regularly and he's played extremely well not just in one-day cricket but in four-day cricket as well. It will be very interesting to see how he reacts.
"He's a very strong character, very effervescent and how he plays is how you see him as a character."
There is no place in the one-day squad for Kevin Pietersen, who is recovering from Achilles surgery. The selectors hope he will be fit for England's full tour of South Africa starting in November. Ian Bell has been dropped, which is slightly surprising since he has been entrusted with the number three spot in the nerve-jangling Ashes match.
It lent a hollow ring to Miller's words of support.
"We don't have a concern about Ian Bell," he said. "We don't pick players if we have a concern. We're confident they can do a job for us." Good enough for the Ashes, but not for a few one-dayers.
England calling: One-Day squads
England One-Day squad for NatWest Series against Australia and the ICC Champions Trophy:
AJ Strauss (capt, Middlesex), JM Anderson (Lancashire), RS Bopara (Essex), TT Bresnan (Yorkshire), SCJ Broad (Nottinghamshire), PD Collingwood (Durham), JL Denly (Kent), A Flintoff (Lancashire), EJG Morgan (Middlesex), MJ Prior (Sussex), AU Rashid (Yorkshire), OA Shah (Middlesex), RJ Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire), GP Swann (Nottinghamshire), LJ Wright (Sussex).
England squad for One-Day International v Ireland in Belfast on Thursday, 27 August: Collingwood (capt), Anderson, Bopara, Bresnan, Broad, Denly, Flintoff, Morgan, Prior, Rashid, Shah, Sidebottom, Swann, Wright.
England squad for NatWest T20 Internationals v Australia: Collingwood (capt), Anderson, Bopara, Bresnan, Broad, Denly, Flintoff, Morgan, Prior, Rashid, Shah, Sidebottom, Swann, Trott, Wright.Reuse content