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Abyssinia Freddie

Submitted by rickeyre on September 18, 2010 - 9:56am

It's taken over a year for us to know this, but The Oval Test of the 2009 Ashes was Andrew Flintoff's last game of competitive cricket. The losing battle with injury was finally conceded on the last day of a, for him, empty 2010 English season.

It's probably too big a call to say that only Sir Ian Botham stands between Flintoff and the designation as England's greatest post-WWII cricketer. Injuries and other fitness worries were no help to him - he played only 79 Tests in an era where a hundred is a modest achievement. And it was seven years into his international career before he was able to make his first appearance in an Ashes series. But it is the Ashes, and especially those historic victories of 2005 and 2009, that cement Freddie's place in English sporting folklore.

For a gallant all-rounder seemingly tailor-made for Twenty20 cricket, his opportunities in the IPL were limited to the 2009 series for the Chennai franchise, his dreams of supplementing his income in his latter days as a "freelance" cricketer being literally knee-capped.

Will English cricket see his likes again? Actually, didn't we say that about Ian Botham? The name Stuart Broad comes to mind and, if his attitude doesn't change, goes again.

The Guardian carries a report on Flintoff's announcement Thursday of his retirement, and has a tribute from Mike Selvey.

Some other notable tributes from cricketing newspaperland include those from Simon Briggs at the Telegraph and from James Lawton and Stephen Brenkley at the Independent. (There's another newspaper called the Times which disappeared behind a Murdochian paywall so I can't check it for you.)

Among other cricketers, the tribute from his 2005 Ashes protagonist Brett Lee is worthy of mention.

Andrew Flintoff's Test career stats were corrupted by that daft ICC directive to include the 2005 "Super Series" match in Sydney. Excluding that game (in which he did well with the ball in a badly losing cause), Flintoff played 78 Tests for England in a career spanning from July 1998 to August 2009, scoring 3795 runs (including five centuries), and taking 219 wickets (with three pfeiffers). Curiously, he never bettered his 167 for England against the West Indies in the Birmingham Test of 2004 in any major level of cricket, nor did he take six-wickets in an innings.