Flintoff's eyes glaze over again as captain flogs talisman into ground

There was a glazed, faraway look in Andrew Flintoff's eyes yesterday morning. It was familiar from those photographs taken after "Fred" had attempted to drink London dry during the post-Ashes euphoria.

But this was not the expression of a man who had taken strong liquor. If he had wanted it, and the way Pakistan were batting was enough to turn anybody to drink, he could not have obtained it easily in this neck of the woods. No, these were the hollow, bewildered features of a man who was all but spent.

Flintoff had bowled himself into the ground. There were 36 overs of resolute slog as Pakistan's remorseless progress on the third afternoon turned into a casual assault on the fourth morning. In 28 overs and four balls, Pakistan added 190 runs. To put that in to some kind of context, it would put them on course for 400 in a limited-overs match and here fielders were spread around the boundary like policemen in a search party.

It was not a lone effort by Flintoff. His great, almost inseparable friend Stephen Harmison delivered 43 overs in spell after spell of accurate, probing, fast bowling. With England being plundered, he still managed to snake one past Kamran Akmal's bat.

Memory recollected that he had done something similar to Brian Lara in Antigua when Lara was approaching 300 on his way to 400. To no avail then as now. There had been little avail for Harmison throughout the innings. Nobody shirked but, for the rest of England's attack, it was, by comparison, a routine day at the office.

True, in Liam Plunkett's case, it was the first week in a new job and he was given more responsibility than might have been expected. Rather than making the tea, he was entrusted with speaking to clients and writing a few reports. But it was still Flintoff and Harmison who were out there trying to get the new business, working the long hours. Looking at them, and looking especially at the future BBC sports personality of the year, it was possible to wonder what was going on.

Not why Pakistan were creating such mayhem. They were batting wonderfully on a benign pitch, having paced matters impeccably. They had not rushed in to the sweet shop like England. They had seen the candy, doubtless sized it up, but they had not attempted to gorge themselves immediately.

The concern was why, in these circumstances, England's key pair, and Flintoff in particular, were still being asked to bowl. Pakistan were ready to take anybody on at this stage. Somebody else, anybody else could have taken the hit.

Flintoff has bowled 140 overs in this three-match series, only 54 fewer than he bowled in the Ashes, Harmison has sent down 122.5, 38 fewer. It is what they do, but Michael Vaughan, their captain, was perhaps asking too much with a match still to be saved and a jam-packed one-day series starting next week.

Vaughan has had an indifferent time, albeit involving only two Tests. He has occasionally looked in touch with the bat but runs have been scarce and he was bamboozled yesterday by a slower ball from Shoaib Akhtar. Another technical glitch may have arisen, his right knee is sore, and he is going home tonight to be with his wife Nichola, for the birth of their second baby.

A few of the retinue that accompanies any touring party - press, television, hangers-on, that sort of thing - are intending to spend a couple of days in jolly Dubai next week before the limited-overs jamboree. That sort of excursion will probably ensure that Fred Flintoff's faraway look may not be disappearing early.

Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
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
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence