Flintoff's rejection threatens Test cricket - Cricket - Sport - The Independent

Flintoff's rejection threatens Test cricket

All-rounder tries to play down backlash in wake of his decision to go freelance

Andrew Flintoff may have unwittingly incited the break-up of international cricket. In the wake of his audacious decision to refuse an England contract and become a freelance player roaming the world in search of a game, it began to seem certain yesterday that other players would soon follow.

This will cause the dilution of Test and one-day cricket between countries if top players are unavailable, which would in turn lead to a slow, lingering but inevitable death as fans and sponsors turn away. The grim scenario has suddenly heightened the significance of two conferences in Johannesburg later this month – one for players, the others for administrators – and there will be serious talking which needs to yield swift verdicts on how cricket and its leading players are to be run.

Flintoff himself issued assurances that his rejection of an England increment contract, a second tier deal offered to him because of his retirement from Test cricket, did not lessen his commitment to England. The all-rounder, who is Dubai undergoing rehabilitation after knee surgery, made it clear that he has no intention of missing any England games should they clash with matches in the various Twenty20 franchise competitions he also hopes to be part of.



Although Flintoff has put all negotiations on hold while he recovers he is known to have been in preliminary talks with teams in Australia, where their revamped Twenty20 competition is to be called the Big Bash and South Africa, where the Pro20 is easily the most popular professional cricket in the country.

Sean Morris, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, said yesterday that other players would join Flintoff in rejecting national deals and that there may be a rash of early retirements from international cricket. "I think there will be a lot of serious discussion in Johannesburg later this month among the parties and between the parties," he said. "I can't overestimate its importance. In the space of a few weeks we have had two leading players withdrawing from components of the international game, Andrew Flintoff from Tests and Ricky Ponting, from Twenty20 internationals.

"I think other players will, like Flintoff, reject contracts from their boards, not necessarily from England but from New Zealand, Sri Lanka and West Indies where the rewards are not nearly so great. If that happens then the teams they put out will not be representative. This can be overcome if windows are made for franchise Twenty20 competitions. We're only surprised that it has not been done before now and if it doesn't get done then the consequences down the line will be huge."

The International Cricket Council have paid occasional lip service to the idea of a window for domestic franchise T20 tournaments, especially the cash cow that is the Indian Premier League. But it has also resolutely insisted that they are domestic tournaments over which it has no control.

Flintoff's move may stimulate more than debate. England captain Andrew Strauss was mildly surprised by the decision. "I'm not going to sit in judgement of him because we don't know the reasons," he said. "We need to sit down and speak to him about why he's done this and we'll then make an informed decision about what that means to his availability for England."

Flintoff seems to be a special case and Morris said he was in an elite group of players. The trouble is that it will not be long before there are other special cases.

England meanwhile have a one-day international to play tonight, their sixth of seven against Australia. The tourists lead 5-0. All-rounder Luke Wright has been withdrawn from the final two matches because of the gash he sustained on a big toe while facing a bowling machine in the nets on Monday. He is also now extremely doubtful for the Champions Trophy next week.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week