No surprises as talisman bows to the inevitable

What stood out more than anything else around here yesterday was the total lack of surprise. No one had seen Andrew Flintoff's retirement from Test cricket coming on the day in question but everyone knew that it was merely a matter of time.

As it happened, the timing, a day before a crucial Test match for the team whose talisman he once was, hardly seemed judicious. Flintoff had his thunder stolen in one of the morning tabloids. Dogging him to the last, he must have felt.

"It's not something I thought up overnight, it's something that has been in my mind for a while regarding this series," he said. "My body is telling me things and I've started to listen now. I can't just keep playing games here and there waiting to be fit, as much for my sanity as well as that of the family having to live with me going through two years of rehab out of the past four. It's not ideal, which is why I'm going to draw a line under it after this series and concentrate on one-day and Twenty20 cricket."

Flintoff still sounded desperate to play cricket of some sort, perhaps recognising that is what he has been put on Earth to do. He could easily have made a dash for the commentary box, where he would be the new David "Bumble" Lloyd in waiting, and the after-dinner speaking circuit where his spontaneous wit ignites audiences.

Naturally he was defiant. He expressed a desire to play not only in the 2011 World Cup but the one after that. Whether that (and huge pay cheques elsewhere from the likes of the Indian Premier League) is sufficient to sustain him only time will tell – and six years is an eternity in one-day cricket.

"I don't think anything can generate as much excitement as an Ashes series," he said. "I've enjoyed playing Test cricket but the Ashes is obviously on a different level to any other form or any other competition you play in. I enjoy the short form of the game and I want to be the best I possibly can at that. I want to focus all my attention and all my energy on being the best in the world at that form of the game."

It is some time since he was the best in the world and he knows it. But with plenty of time to allow his body to recover between competitions and appropriate diligence during them, there is no reason at his age that his ambition cannot be achieved.

"I think I produced my best in the three years after Michael Vaughan took over as captain in 2003," he said. "Since then I've missed two years out of four so my career has been curtailed by injury and I've not been able to have that rhythm of playing day in and day out. I've suffered for that."

But now for today and the rest of this high-profile Ashes series, hereinafter known as Freddie's Farewell. "The plan is to finish with a big bang," he said. "It's out there and it's a weight off my shoulders. It would be a perfect end to my Test career at The Oval." This might just work.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
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

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?