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Flintoff ? the 'complete' man

He says being an all-rounder is not easy, and that it would be tougher to perform with both bat and ball in subcontinental conditions.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2006 14:55 IST
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Andrew Flintoff says being an all-rounder in modern cricket is not easy, and that it would be even tougher to perform with both bat and ball in subcontinental conditions.

Nevertheless, he loves the challenge of excelling in whatever he does and hopes to replicate his Ashes heroics on the Indian soil in the next few weeks.

"Sometimes it is tough, you bowl a lot and then you pad up at number six, but I think I enjoy doing that, to be honest. If I don't do that I would be bored on the field," says the 28-year-old.

"It does have an impact, but it is something I have done for three years, quite successfully. It is difficult to find the balance and get both going at the same time. It happened for six weeks last year, I hope I have a window to do that here but we have to wait and see."

The Lanchashire player was the star performer for England which regained the Ashes from Australia last summer.

Flintoff smashed 402 runs at 40.20 and grabbed 24 wickets at 27.29 in the five Tests against the arch-rivals to lead his team to a 2-1 series win, England's first against the Aussies in 18 years.

Flintoff says the visitors, slated to play three Tests and seven ODIs from March 1 to April 15, would have to show character to consolidate their status as challengers to the Test crown, particularly after the loss to Pakistan late last year.

Flintoff believes he has come of age since his last visit to India in 2002.

"I have got a better knowledge of my game. I have got a basic technique and method of playing which I trust. I am slightly more patient, and my shot selection is better than it used to be, I feel I approach an innings or even practice a lot better."

Before that tour, he was criticised for his slack attitude to the game. Touted as successor to Ian Botham when he made his debut, Flintoff was labelled as over-weight and ridiculed for his eating habits.

But the wheel has come full circle and he is now considered among the leading all-rounders of the game.

Flintoff attributes the transformation to his marriage.

"Your focus changes. I am still enjoying my cricket but you play for your family and play to provide as well.

"You put things in context. Good days and bad days (on the field), when you come through the door, your family treats you the same. You realise cricket is just a game, there are far more important things in life, I certainly found so. I am enjoying being a family man, enjoying the responsibility."

So, won't there be any chest-baring and shirt-waving this time, just as he did four years ago?

"I think I had a 10-second of madness. I won't be doing it again— I was young and daft then but I'm a bit older and wiser now."