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.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
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

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn