Strauss salutes retiring Flintoff

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The Independent Online

England captain Andrew Strauss today called Andrew Flintoff "the ultimate impact cricketer" who would put his "body on the line" for his team.

Strauss, who learned of Flintoff's decision to retire from all forms of the game while preparing for England's third one-day international against Pakistan tomorrow, said at his best the all-rounder was one of the most hostile bowlers in the world.

"I would just like to say on behalf of the England team we would like to congratulate Andrew on an outstanding career," said Strauss.

"The impact he has had on English cricket has been immense.

"Of course, it is a sad day when somebody like that can no longer keep playing.

"But we would prefer today to celebrate everything he has achieved as an England cricketer."

Strauss said Flintoff was "incredibly able to make something happen out of nothing with both bat and ball".

He said: "2005 was his zenith. But he was always the ultimate impact cricketer, somebody who on so many occasions stepped up to the plate.

"He would put his body on the line on flat wickets when other bowlers were maybe starting to struggle.

"Because of the way he bowled, and what he put into it, it was probably not as easy for him to get seven-fors and eight-fors.

"But if you talked to other players around the world, they would always say Andrew was one of the bowlers they least wanted to face - because he could be so hostile.

"We are all striving to gain the respect of our peers. Andrew certainly did that."

Michael Vaughan said the "larger than life" Flintoff was one of a rare breed of cricketer who could clear the bars at a ground.

"He would then go and join them afterwards," the former England captain told BBC Radio Five Live.

Vaughan said since retiring he has experienced "the best year of my life" and was sure Flintoff "will be exactly the same".

"He's probably being preparing for this for a few months now," Vaughan said.

"He knows he's going to do something different. He will do something in television. I still think Freddie Flintoff has quite a lot to give the game."

Steve Harmison has been a close friend of Flintoff throughout his career, with the pair playing many Tests together.

Harmison admitted he found the news of Flintoff's retirement "devastating", but offered praise to his former England colleague.

"It's a sad day for English cricket," Harmison told Sky Sports News.

"People look for words to describe Andrew and coming from someone close to him in the dressing room he's been an inspirational character, not just for Lancashire, not just for England, but for children growing up and for his team-mates as well.

"I spoke to Andrew this morning and he was dejected and disappointed about having to make the decision.

"I'm sure it'll be a relief off his shoulders and he can move on with the rest of his life."

Harmison explained how Flintoff found it difficult to accept he would not play again.

"It's been very hard," Harmison said.

"He's a cricketer, that's all Andrew's ever wanted to be since he was nine, 10, 11 years old.

"It's taken him a year to make this decision, if not more.

"He tried his hardest to get back and when the surgeon said yesterday he couldn't get back it'll have been a long night for him, just knowing that he's not going to take the field again.

"It's sad for everybody - it's sad for everybody and it's devastating for Andrew - that they're not going to see this talisman for England, this inspirational cricketer, not just on international field but any field at all.

"It's devastating for me. What a wonderful career he's had."