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Flintoff a match-winner with bat and ball

Last updated on: September 17, 2010 09:54 IST

Flintoff a match-winner with bat and ball

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All-rounder Andrew Flintoff called time on one of the most colourful and inspirational careers in English cricket on Thursday after years of battling a succession of injuries.

The 32-year-old announced his retirement from all forms of the game in a statement after being told by his doctor that his knee could no longer stand the rigours of top level sport.

Flintoff, a match-winner with bat and ball and a larger than life character in the dressing room, retired from Test cricket last year following the Ashes victory over Australia but had retained hopes of continuing to play for Lancashire and England in shorter forms of the game.


Image: Andrew Flintoff
Photographs: Reuters
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'Retirement is going to take a while to sink in'

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Talking to Sky Sports News, Flintoff said the decision had been taken out of his hands.

"Speaking with my surgeon he said the operation I had 12 months ago had been fine but not good enough to start playing cricket again," Flintoff said.

"I knew in my own mind it wasn't right. It's going to take a while to sink in. It's one of those things where the decision has been made for me.

"It's going to be difficult because it's something I've done professionally for 17 years."


Image: Andrew Flintoff

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2005 was Flintoff's zenith

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Flintoff underwent knee surgery last August and needed a second operation in January before returning to training with Lancashire in June. Hopes of an early comeback were shelved, however, and he missed the entire county season.

He will always be remembered for his performances in the 2005 Ashes when his destructive bowling helped England beat Australia in a series for the first time since 1987.

Current captain Andrew Strauss said it was a sad day for English cricket.

"I would just like to say on behalf of the England team that we would like to congratulate Andrew on an outstanding career," Strauss said in a statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

"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.

"The biggest memories I will have of him are how incredibly able he was to make something happen out of nothing with both bat and ball. 2005 was his zenith. But he was always the ultimate impact cricketer, somebody who on so many occasions stepped up to the plate."


Image: Andrew Flintoff

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'I always hoped I could get back for Lancashire and England'

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The 6ft 4ins Flintoff was fiercely competitive on the pitch but also displayed great sportsmanship. The moment when he consoled Australia's Brett Lee after England's narrow win at Edgbaston in 2005 has become an iconic image.

Flintoff said that in some ways it was a relief that he has been forced into a decision but said he had never given up hope.

"I always thought I might have another two years," said Flintoff. I always hoped I could get back for Lancashire and England but I have to face facts, that's gone now.

"It would have been hard if it was a 50-50 decision because at this point in my life I can't wait around for ever and I need to focus my energy on something else and forge a new career.

"It's something I will have to deal with and re-assess and look at my options and see where it takes me."


Image: Andrew Flintoff

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Popularity never waned

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Flintoff made his England debut in 1998 and went on to play 79 Tests and 141 one-day internationals, scoring 3,845 Test runs, including five centuries at an average of 31.77.

He took 226 Test wickets and scored 3,394 runs in ODIs, taking 169 wickets in that format.

He captained his country for the first time in 2006 in India but was also in charge for a disastrous 2006-7 tour when Australia gained revenge for their 2005 series defeat -- thrashing England 5-0.

At the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean he became embroiled in controversy when he had to be rescued from the sea after taking out a pedalo after a night out. He was subsequently stripped of the vice-captaincy.

His popularity never waned, however, and despite ankle surgery he was selected for the 2009 Ashes squad.

Although not playing such a key role as he did in 2005, Flintoff still provided some memorable moments, running out Australia skipper Ricky Ponting with a remarkable throw in the final Test at the Oval to help secure victory.


Image: Andrew Flintoff

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