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Flintoff failed to justify his potential

England's star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who announced his retirement from Test cricket on Wednesday, is a classic example of a highly talented player failing to live up to potential at the highest level.

cricket Updated: Jul 15, 2009 20:57 IST

England's star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who announced his retirement from Test cricket on Wednesday, is a classic example of a highly talented player failing to live up to potential at the highest level.

The burly all-rounder -- hailed as the next Ian Botham early in his career -- began with a flourish but gradually lost much of his destructive abilities due to a spate of injuries, which hampered his progress in the last few years.

The 31-year-old Flintoff will continue playing one-dayers and Twenty20 matches, in which he represents Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League.

Since making his debut as a 20-year-old against South Africa in 1998, Flintoff has played 76 Test matches so far, amassing 3708 runs at an average of 31.69 with five centuries against his name.

In the same period, Flintoff the bowler has scalped 219 wickets with his hostile pace bowling to establish himself as the premier all-rounder of his era.

A star player who almost always rose to the occasion, Flintoff found his progress being hampered both by injuries and indiscretion. In fact, he missed 25 of England's last 48 Tests because of injuries -- mainly in the back, ankle and knee -- and surgeries.

A wonky knee haunted him all along and Flintoff succumbed to numerous injury break-downs to remain an under-achiever despite his talent.

At times, Flintoff himself was to be blamed for some of the setbacks that dented his reputation.

A combative cricketer, he had a cold relation with former India captain Sourav Ganguly, another equally pugnacious character, during their days together at Lancashire.

It turned worse in 2002 when Flintoff's shirt-swirling antics in Mumbai infuriated Ganguly who returned the compliment at Lord's after India had won the Natwest Series Final.

Alcohol remained a huge problem with him and he was stripped of his vice-captaincy after the 'Pedalogate' episode during the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies when an intoxicated Flintoff and a few other English cricketers capsised a pedalo.

Flintoff was again in the news for all the wrong reasons when he missed the bus for England team's bonding session in Belgium ahead of the ongoing Ashes series.

Flintoff was awarded MBE after England's 2005 Ashes win and the all-rounder shared the 2005 Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the ICC player of the year award with Jacques Kallis.

In December 2005, Flintoff was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2005 -- first cricketer since Botham got it in 1981. Flintoff was presented with Freedom of the City award in 2006.