Flintoff slow to savour delicacies

The brouhaha about Andy Flintoff's involvement with the bathroom scales has at last died down. In the space of a few days he went from overweight dolt who clocked in at 17 stones plus to swashbuckling hero on the basis of an adventurous 42 not out in a one-day game against Zimbabwe at Old Trafford.

The brouhaha about Andy Flintoff's involvement with the bathroom scales has at last died down. In the space of a few days he went from overweight dolt who clocked in at 17 stones plus to swashbuckling hero on the basis of an adventurous 42 not out in a one-day game against Zimbabwe at Old Trafford.

It all seemed too puerile for words, almost as if Just William had suddenly made a reappearance. Flintoff is a big man and always will be. No amount of dieting is going to give him a sylph-like figure anymore than it would have done to Colin Cowdrey or Colin Milburn, who could both play a bit.

Flintoff has an unusual ability too. But while his powerful, exuberant strokeplay is, these days, as unusual as it is refreshing it is not on its own enough. Naked talent by itself can be a dangerous and irritating commodity. If the rough edges are not smoothed down it can be hopelessly wasted.

Flintoff has a great talent to hit a cricket ball but he has not been taught - at least he has not yet learned - the need to temper it with discipline. This involves the ability to decide which is the ball to hit as well as the situation in which it is right to try and give it the most fearful tonk. To come in as Flintoff did at The Oval when England's middle-order was in a tangle against Zimbabwe and to hole out at once to long-off was ridiculous. This sparked the furore which caused him to be promoted to No 3 at Old Trafford, where he played precisely the type of innings he had set out to play at The Oval.

This time he got away with it. Early on, an attempted drive screwed just over extra cover's head and a big swing deposited the ball inches over long-on's outstretched hands for six. Nothing had changed. On another day either or both would have gone to hand.

Yet Flintoff was universally absolved simply because this innings came off. Now, at Edgbaston, he had another go. He drove over gulley, he flailed and missed, he snicked in the air between wicketkeeper and first slip and he was later badly dropped at first slip. All this before he was out for 24.

Flintoff and his advisors and counsellors in the Lancashire camp as well as the England dressing-room must put their heads together.

Almost anything can be justified in one-day cricket. And Flintoff's biff, bang, wallop is fine. But surely with his talent he wants to aim for a better epitaph than that.

One-day cricket is an exhibition; Test cricket an examination. It is in relation to his performances in the latter that Flintoff will be ultimately judged. Making runs in Test cricket is much more about keeping out good bowling than biffing indifferent bowling - fun though that may be.

It is also about batting to plan. At the moment, Flintoff only has Plan A, which is to hit the ball as hard as he can whenever he can. No one wants to curb natural ability and enthusiasm, but it must be tempered if it is to prosper. It is high time Flintoff began to work this out, both for his own and everyone else's enjoyment.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home