Flintoff struggling to cope with new-found fame
Tuesday 11 October 2005
The 27-year-old was the star of England's Ashes triumph and received a hero's welcome when he arrived in Australia for the Super Series - he is also up for two awards at the International Cricket Council's player of the year event in Sydney tonight.
With the little urn back in English possession for less than a month, everyone wants a piece of Flintoff at present - he was bizarrely booed at the end of the World XI's heavy defeat to Australia in the third Telstra Dome one-dayer on Sunday, hours after receiving a hefty blow to his wrist which curtailed his influence on the game.
His standing on the world scene is quite a contrast to even a year ago. "I would like to go back to that, to be honest," Flintoff admitted yesterday. "When we set out before the Ashes we said if we won it would be life-changing and it has been; for the better, for the worse.
"One of the downsides is there is a lot more attention on all of us, not just from the media but from the man in the street as well. It has been a bizarre few weeks. I am looking forward to the day it dies down a little bit. Maybe if I start playing poorly nobody will be interested," he said.
"Before Australia I did get recognised but not to the extent of how it is now. It has taken some time to adjust - I don't quite accept or understand it, but you take it as something that has happened.
"[World XI coach] John Wright said to take the boos as a compliment, quite a strange thing to say, but I didn't know what to expect when we came out here, having won the Ashes and performed all right in them.
"I am just going out there and playing, I have not got a clue whether the crowd like me or dislike me. All the feedback I have had in the street has been positive and the Australian public have been great. In England a few of the Aussies got booed but I am sure that was good-hearted and I hope it is at the moment as well."
Flintoff should be fit for the six-day Test against Australia which begins on Friday, with the bruising easing around the wrist which was struck by a Ricky Ponting drive. He has been nominated for world player of the year and one-day player of the year at tonight's ceremony.
Had the judging period extended beyond July this year he would have been a certainty to claim the main prize given his influence on the Ashes, but he was nevertheless the main performer in a period of extended success for England.
England colleague Kevin Pietersen could pick up the one-day title after a stunning maiden year which included three hundreds in South Africa.
World XI coach John Wright has demanded more from Flintoff and his high-profile players in the Test.
"We are looking for a lot more commitment and determination than we saw, particularly in the last match," Wright said. "We have to play with pride in our personal and team performance. That is what I will be demanding."
Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Steve Harmison replace Kumar Sangakkara, Shahid Afridi, Chris Gayle, Makhaya Ntini and Pietersen in the Test squad.
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