There were two memorable performances by Andrew Flintoff at Lord's this summer. The one everybody recalls is his momentous bowling spell in the Second Test against Australia.
On one leg, the wounded warrior bowled unchanged from the Pavilion End for over after over and ensured England's first Ashes win at the ground for 75 years. A few weeks before, there had been another appearance, much less heroic. Fred, still recovering from his first knee operation – which cannot have worked properly since he is now recovering from his second – turned up to visit his team-mates in their Test against West Indies.
He went into the dressing room and then transferred himself to the upper tier of the pavilion. Not only did he ignore the traditional dress code (jacket and tie) but he was also wearing a top bearing the name and logo of a sponsor which is a direct competitor of the England kit sponsor. Flintoff wore Puma, the team were sporting Adidas. It was as blatant a case of so-called ambush marketing as could be imagined. Flintoff, of course, might not have realised what he was doing but he is paid by Puma to promote their stuff and it is possible that he knew he might be photographed that day.
Nor does he miss any opportunity to sit on the team balcony sporting a can of a high-energy drink. All harmless money-making fun perhaps but Flintoff is in danger of shedding goodwill. His loquacious manager, Chubby Chandler, has revealed that Fred has declined an increment contract offered him by England because it would mean he could not go bungee jumping. English cricket first, last and always.
Strauss could be top dog
This evening may not be the best of times for Andrew Strauss to be in the running for the international cricketer of the year award. But he is, and rightly so. Strauss is up against Gautam Gambhir, MS Dhoni and Mitchell Johnson. England's captain, who is unbothered by the award, has not scored quite as many runs from all forms of the game as Gambhir, who has had a golden year. But Strauss has had to lead a side in difficult circumstances and has the most centuries. Johnson's haul of 80 Test wickets is 31 more than anybody else but his side lost three of five Test series. Dhoni, liked Gambhir, has played little Test cricket. Strauss has a real chance.
South Africa, where the awards will be presented during the Champions Trophy next week, are unhappy about their lack of representatives. However, the truth is, almost bizarrely, that they played too little cricket (14 one-dayers, eight Tests) for anybody to form, as it were, a sufficient body of work. Watch out for Dale Steyn, AB de Villiers and probably Graeme Smith next year, though, but do stop whingeing in the meantime.
KP and Co right at home
England visit South Africa twice this winter. Given the composition of their probable squads, it is being suggested that the ECB could save on hotel rooms and the boys could stay with relatives.