Tag: Andrew Flintoff (page 1 of 3)

Article about English county cricketer fails to dwell on his chances of playing for England

Andrew Flintoff takes his helium-dog for a walk

There is more than one thing to celebrate regarding Andrew Flintoff’s return to competitive cricket, but surely this is the greatest. A county match report which doesn’t go on and on about how some no-mark is ‘pushing for selection’ is a rare thing indeed.

Okay, so in this instance the focus is on a somewhat showbiz comeback instead, but it’s still a refreshing change. And can anything in county cricket ever truly be considered ‘showbiz’?

We’re pretty sure we saw Flintoff in the supermarket the other day, but we can’t for the life of us work out which aisle it was in. We suspect that it was ready meals, but that would be really weird because we never go down that aisle except as a thoroughfare when either fresh meat or milk and yoghurts is blocked by dawdlers.

Andrew Flintoff’s world

Andrew Flintoff's face

If there’s one thing that’s become clear from Freddie Flintoff’s slurred slights against acerbic Athers, it’s that the duff-kneed purveyor of forced laddish bonhomie cares little for freedom of speech.

“How can he talk about a player like Alastair Cook who is 10 times the player he ever was – he has a much bigger average and will go on and on. Atherton averaged in the 30s for England and yet he thinks he can judge others.”

You can’t, Athers. You can’t. You don’t have the right to judge anyone because you averaged in the late-30s. You probably wouldn’t have averaged in the 40s even if you hadn’t had a broken back for 90 per cent of the matches you played. Shut up. Shut up right now.

Here in Flintoff’s world, the right to express your opinions is earned through sporting prowess. Aristotle? Get back to me when you can play a decent forward defensive stroke. John Locke? Let’s see you get some crosses in the box before you start mouthing off.

If we want opinions, we’ll go to someone truly worth listening to, like Pete Sampras or Diego Maradona.

Why Andrew Flintoff was a great cricketer

Andrew Flintoff’s only going to retire the once, so we’ve written about him again.

A lot of people have picked apart his career with the recent past at the forefront of their minds, but we’re choosing to look at why he became such a significant figure in the first place.

People talk about charisma and how Flintoff could turn a match and they say he was popular with the crowds because he played like an enthusiastic village cricketer. These people aren’t missing the point exactly, but these are tired observations and they don’t fully explain his significance to a certain generation of England fans.

Was Flintoff a great player? If you could weight performances according to when you really, really gave a shit what happened, Flintoff’s averages would be a damn sight better than they actually are. We don’t watch cricket for averages.

The font size is quite small in that article, but if you do the old ctrl-and-scroll, you can make it bigger and more web friendly.

Andrew Flintoff – batsman, bowler, slip fielder, England representative

Throughout his career, people talked about Andrew Flintoff being the new Botham. He wasn’t. He was the new Darren Gough. He was England supporters’ representative on the field of play. For the rest of this article, we will be referring to him as Andy Flintoff because that was what he was called when he became that figure.

ALWAYS look like you’re trying

Some players are great at cricket but the crowds don’t particularly take to them. Genuine crowd favourites are a rarity. Botham was one, Gough was one and Flintoff was one. It takes certain qualities to get the crowd onside and it’s not simply about runs and wickets. Mostly it’s about your attitude and your approach to the game. Andy Flintoff did not become a crowd favourite during the 2005 Ashes – that is a common misconception. He was already a favourite and he used that to his advantage.

How to bat – try and hit sixes

Violent batting is the way to people’s hearts – earthy, straightforward hitting that softens the ball through robust contact with both bat and boundary boards. Sixes help, but just putting your back into it is the main thing.

Darren Gough’s shot was the wild edge to third man for four. The runs weren’t the point; the helicopter rotor blades style follow-through that often knocked him over was the point. Flintoff was better than that. His shot was the lofted straight drive that he tried to land in his dad’s hands somewhere up in the stands.

For a long time, if there was a big match on and someone said ‘Flintoff’ to you with an urgent and excited look on their face, you would instantly know that this meant England’s fourth wicket had fallen and that this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Bowling – put in the effort

You’re in a better position to win the crowd’s affections if you’re a fast bowler. It means you can show effort and flog yourself into the ground.

Andrew Flintoff became a top bowler, but we loved him because he bowled like a man who thought he could propel the ball through the batsman and into the stumps if only he tried a bit harder.

Flintoff’s flaws

We don’t want to write too much about the negatives, but they need to be acknowledged. They weren’t all his fault anyway.

The injuries were bad. We once said that he wasn’t built for fast bowling any more than an otter is built for refrigerating foodstuffs. It was frustrating for fans, so it must have been woeful for him. We still can’t believe they didn’t make him a bionic knee. If Flintoff doesn’t get one, who does?

We didn’t really care about the drinking, but we cared that he was known for drinking. It turned him into a cartoon figure; a caricature – and we thought he was better than that.

Late in his career, there were the celebrations. He won us over with genuine, heartfelt elation and when he became more calculated it felt a little like treachery to those of us who’d monitored Lancashire scorecards in those early days.

Cricket matches with corners

Far better to remember him for his finest quality. He gave England supporters the sense that something could happen at any moment. He made us think that the match could suddenly change direction.

Remember the over Flintoff bowled to Kallis?

That’s the kind of thing we’re on about. Supreme entertainment that just suddenly came from nowhere. Matches didn’t progress when Andy Flintoff was involved, they changed.

Lazy-minded people ascribed this ability to some nebulous concept that they called ‘the X-factor’ as if it were magic, but it was nothing of the sort. It was a combination of psychology, kidology, physical presence and reputation as well as one other quality that you can’t coach or buy.

Flintoff’s effect on the crowd

Because of the way he batted and bowled in those early days, Flintoff built a lasting rapport with England fans. If he showed any sign that he was going to do something remotely special on a cricket field, the crowd got behind him. When the crowd got behind him, the adrenaline kicked in. When Flintoff’s adrenaline kicked in, the crowd went mental. From there, very, very special things could happen.

Day three of the 2005 Edgbaston Test was Flintoff’s high water mark and if you want to study a player’s effect on a crowd as well as a crowd’s effect on a player, this is where you should start. Frankly, it’s also where you should finish.

The man came into bat with England 31-4. When the ninth wicket fell, he ignited a whole stadium full of people and used the blaze for power. Australia positioned most of their fielders on the boundary and still he went for sixes.

That evening he went one better.

It was 47-0 when Flintoff came on to bowl and all was flat. To put this over in perspective, he was on a hat trick with his opening delivery and that was possibly the least exciting ball. How many players can bowl overs where hat trick balls are repeatedly overshadowed?

Andy Flintoff took two wickets for one run (a no-ball) in that over, but what we remember – and what we’ll always remember – is the effect that he had on the crowd.

Freddie Flintoff’s Powerplay Cricket – press release timing failure

“Play as Freddie Flintoff and become an integral player for England in this fast moving, high scoring arcade cricket game.”

That should perhaps read:

“Play as Freddie Flintoff and engage in long, soul-destroying rehabilitation programmes that are ultimately unsuccessful. Slowly come to accept that your days as an international cricketer are behind you, even though you’re only 32.

“Now features Crying Into Your Puma Pillowcase While Having An Existential Crisis mini game.”

You can order it in advance and still have time to waterproof your Nintendo DS so that your salty tears of sympathy don’t knacker it up for when you want to play Club Penguin.

Why Andrew Flintoff turned down a contract that would have prevented him from making almost painful amounts of cash

It was because of the bungee clause.

Flintoff’s agent, Andrew Chandler, explains why his client has turned down an incremental England contract which might have stopped him playing in the occasional lucrative Twenty20 tournament:

“There were one or two things in it that made it difficult to sign like he wouldn’t be allowed to participate in dangerous sports and he’s possibly doing a television series in which he may do bungee-jumping.”

What more reason could there be?

Chandler goes on to use the phrase ‘has to’ in an unusual way:

“He’s got three young kids and Andrew and his wife Rachel both spend reasonable amounts of cash so he has to make plenty.”

Stuart Broad snatches the all-rounder baton off Andrew Flintoff

Stuart Broad about to dismiss another Aussie

Andrew Flintoff should keep a close eye on all his cricket gear. Stuart Broad will have his bats, his pads and even his box given half a chance. He’s not waiting until the big man’s gone before taking over.

When Swann got North, we yelped like a female coati. When Broad bowled Haddin, we went up an octave. It sounded like a baby Bongolava mouse lemur had been kicked in the nuts.

We’re far happier seeing an England all-rounder of the future scything through Australia like a laser through hot butter. It bodes well for the future.

Andy Flintoff reinstated as Hero Number One

It’s his last Test, so we’re going back to calling him ‘Andy’. That’s what he always used to be, before the media started calling him ‘Andrew’ and then ‘Freddie’.

Andy is a good, functional name. It gets the job done. It’s the kind of name you’d be happy to buy a pint for, knowing you’d get one back next time you were a bit strapped for cash. It’s the kind of name that can help you out with the electrics because you’re scared of them, thinking you’ll kill yourself even when the power’s off.

We’ve reinstated Flintoff as Hero Number One for reasons unrelated to any of that though. We’re doing it because he said the following:

“You talk about momentum – it seems to be the buzzword of the minute – but this is a one-off Test match.”

Test cricketer renounces momentum. It’s a good day.

The Edgbaston crowd

Cardiff and Lord’s hosted great Test matches, but the Ashes has really got going at Edgbaston. It’s the crowd.

We went on Saturday and much as we love eating sandwiches in the rain, Sunday showed what we missed. It clearly affects the players who were suddenly all very interested in talking to their opponents between deliveries.

The day ended with a healthy debate between James Anderson and Shane Watson. Watson’s mum must have been in the crowd, because he doesn’t seem the type to stand up for himself otherwise. Earlier on, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad had sledged Mitchell Johnson, seemingly unaware that they were the batsmen and supposed to be on the receiving end.

Broad got an earful off just about everybody, but being posh and looking about 15 has doubtless provided good preparation for this sort of treatment. He gives as good as he gets and seems to really enjoy himself.

But the highest compliment you can pay the Edgbaston crowd, is that they somehow coaxed a batting performance out of Andrew Flintoff – 74 runs thumped off 79 balls.

  • Edgbaston + Flintoff + beer = atmosphere
  • Atmosphere + Flintoff = a Flintoff performance
  • A Flintoff performance + Edgbaston + beer = a crowd that improves England by about 10 percent

Andrew Flintoff – do England need him?

A heartfelt appeal from Andrew FlintoffWe wrote a post about whether England needed Andrew Flintoff, but we’ve deleted it.

The gist was:
Bifidus digestivum: do we need it? Companies with ‘solutions’ in their name: do we need them? Andrew Flintoff: do we need him?

After watching him clatter helmets, wedge in yorkers and shatter stumps all morning, the question seems redundant. On top form, Test cricket needs Andrew Flintoff, let alone just England. How was this only his third five wicket haul?

But he is going at the end of this Ashes series. Andrew Flintoff’s celebrations say he’s not one of us any more. Where once he was joyously uninhibited, now there’s self-aware posing. So maybe the time’s right. He’s still a hero though and no amount of posturing will take the gloss of that.

Taking five wickets to win Ashes Tests can’t do his reputation any harm, either.

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