It is not known if Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff ever knocked down pegs in a bowling alley to the sonorous cries of Yabba Dabba Doo. He might also have never thought of joining ballet classes to improve his bowling and go
But it would be right to say that apart from recent success against the South Africans, nothing about the Lancashire all-rounder’s career in the last two years has been as amusing as his Bedrock based nicknamesake’s.
Ankle, knee injuries, side strains and four surgeries kept Flintoff out of action for 18 months. A period, which Flintoff says was tough.
“I played against South Africa in the English summer,” Flinotff said here on Saturday. “Before that I underwent my fourth ankle operation. Did the rehab, did everything. At times it was quite tough. The big thing was to put the England shirt back on. Each time you have it on, you want it back on time and time again. It’s a big incentive to get back to full fitness and back into the team.”
But throughout the lengthy rehab Flintoff did not think that his career could have come to an end. “After I went into my fourth ankle operation and didn’t think that I could have come back fully fit and play better cricket than I had played before, then I probably wouldn’t have,” he said. “You need to give things a try, go back to the basics and figure out what went wrong yourself.”
And when he did get his England shirt back, Flintoff returned with the Man of the Series award during England’s 4-0 thrashing of South Africa. The forthcoming series puts him on the threshold of regaining his all-round glory. “I think any cricketer would want to do well in India more so against this current team,” he said. “Seeing the way they have been performing against Australia, they possibly are the best team in the world at the moment.”
Flintoff, who led England in their last series here, returns under Kevin Pietersen’s captaincy. “I’m more comfortable now,” he says. “I've had a go at captaincy. Batting and bowling and captaincy turned out a bit too much. Now, I have a role to help out the younger players. I’ll try and pass on the experience and knowledge that I got.”
Finally, would he take his shirt off this time the way he did after winning the ODI here in 2001-02? “Depends actually,” he says. “Will have to find some abs in the next few weeks."