Quiet Ashes celebrations for Flintoff

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The Independent Online

Andrew Flintoff enjoyed a quiet beer with his dad after helping England regain the Ashes.

All-rounder Flintoff played a crucial role in his final Test, running out Australia captain Ricky Ponting, as England earned a 197-run victory.

The 31-year-old admits he "celebrated hard" after England's last Ashes win but last night's post-series party was "pretty low key by my standards".

"We had a room in the hotel for friends and family and celebrated a memorable day - it wasn't too crazy," he told a press conference today.

"I remember 2005 - contrary to popular belief - 2005 was fantastic, it almost snuck up on us.

"I lived for the moment then and celebrated hard. But this time it was something which I savoured.

"It was quite nice - all the families came over.

"I sat with my wife and my kids, my dad who has done so much for me throughout my career.

"I was able to have a beer with my dad. It was very different but in a lot of ways far more enjoyable."

A knee injury means Flintoff will only play one-day and Twenty20 cricket in the future.

Flintoff revealed that winning the final Test inside four days means he will undergo exploratory surgery tonight rather than tomorrow as was planned.

He said: "The fortunate thing about winning a day early is that they have brought my op forward.

"I can get that done tonight - then it's all about getting fit."

He added: "The harsh reality is now that I need to get my knee sorted out. It's made me more determined to get back to playing fit.

"Last week was a hard one for me, lots of talks with the surgeon but the incentive is wearing the three lions and I desperately want to wear them again, albeit in one-day matches and Twenty20s."

Flintoff has no definite timescale for his return but would like to be involved in the one-day internationals in Bangladesh next February

"The surgeon has a good idea of what he's going to find. I think it'd be wrong for me to speculate on that. Then like I say the rehab... we'll see when I wake up after the anaesthetic and see where I'm at with it.

"Realistically I think before Christmas I'm going to struggle.

"Obviously I've retired from Test cricket but there's a tour to Bangladesh which I desperately want to be involved in. So realistically I think that could be my first cricket after this Test."

As for his immediate goal when he regains fitness, Flintoff stressed: "I want to be the best one-day cricketer in the world and I can set my sights on that.

Flintoff urged the team to build on this Ashes success and establish themselves as the top side in world cricket.

"What I think we need to do is, if there's any lesson to learn from 2005 now, it's to go for domination, to try to get number one in the world.

"We've got the talent, we've got the side to do it. It's just a case of believing it and putting it into practice."

The 31-year-old Lancastrian is confident he is leaving the England Test set-up in a healthy state.

"One comforting thing is, having seen yesterday and the past five Test matches, is that I'll disappear and the England side will be in good hands," he said.

"The likes of (Jonathan) Trott coming in and everybody's forgetting about KP. Our best player has not played the bulk of this Test series. So the future of the side is in good hands."

Flintoff paid particular tribute to captain and England's man of the series Andrew Strauss.

"I think in a roundabout way we got to the right man for the job," he said.

"There was lot of speculation (about who would be captain) between me and him for the last Ashes series in 2006/07.

"I said before, I probably took one for the team there. We got beat but it's enabled Straussy through different circumstances to take over.

"Straussy leads by example, not just with his batting but with the way he conducts himself. He's a popular lad.

"I'm sure in four or five years' time when someone else is sat in this chair being asked what Andrew Strauss was like as a captain... he was a belter."

Flintoff painted a bright future for England, while acknowledging he will miss not being involved in the Test team any more.

He said: "There's no reason why we can't be the best in the world. We're a very talented team - but we can't get carried away.

"I loved playing Test cricket - it feels strange talking about it in the past tense.

"Having the opportunity to play Tests at my home ground (Old Trafford) and walk out at The Oval should never be taken lightly.

"It's one of those things you don't want to end - but like all things it comes to an end at some point and I couldn't ask for a better way for it to finish.

"To win the Ashes twice is everything. I'm proud to be English and represent my country and I feel very fortunate to do it on and off for the last 10, 11 years or so."

Flintoff admitted winning this time round was very different to the celebrations which followed the 2005 success.

"Since 2005 I had two and a half years trying to get fit so getting the chance to play in the Ashes was one thing but winning it was very special," he said.

"Afterwards I had a moment to myself and then I had my mum and dad there, and my wife and kids. It was different.

"It's a feeling of being quite pleased with myself."

Flintoff's decision to retire from Test cricket has led to speculation other members of the side could also call it quits in the longest form of the game, including close friend Steve Harmison.

The Durham fast bowler has had issues with touring in the past but Flintoff believes he should carry on for a while yet.

"If I was Steve Harmison and could bowl like that I would keep going," he added.

"If you ask any batsman in the world 'who do you not want to face' it would be Steve Harmison.

"He could end up being one of the greats for England.

"He could go on to be our leading wicket-taker of all time. If he wants to, there is still a lot more to come."

Flintoff also backed Stuart Broad to thrive in the all-rounder role.

Broad was named the man of the match at Oval for his five-wicket burst in Australia's first innings and Flintoff is confident the Nottinghamshire star is destined for big things.

"He's better than me in a lot of ways," he said.

"He's only 23 and he's performing at the highest level. Broady has a lot of potential but he's already showing it.

"Changing the course of the game at such a young age is very special.

"We have also seen signs of what he can do with the bat. He's not the finished article but he has huge potential. He could bat at number three in the future."