Andrew Flintoff has admitted that he gave serious thought to resigning the captaincy once the Ashes had been lost following the third of England’s five defeats of their disastrous tour of Australia in 2006-07, adding that the final weeks of that campaign resembled a “booze cruise” as he and the squad sought a release from the pressures of constant defeat.
In a Daily Mail serialisation of his forthcoming autobiography, Flintoff acknowledges that there were times during the latter stages of his England career, and particularly on that Ashes tour, when he was “less professional” with alcohol than he might have been, but blames a lack of support from the rest of the squad, not least the coach, Duncan Fletcher, for the way in which the situation deteriorated, culminating in the infamous “Pedalo” incident in St Lucia in March 2007.
“I found myself questioning my own ability and I was questioning the team,” Flintoff wrote. “I had a few drinks and then a few more but I knew that wasn’t a way out. It was a release, though. For a few hours, all the pressure was taken off. It didn’t matter we were losing heavily, it didn’t matter that the team seemed to be breaking into factions and it didn’t matter that I was finding it hard to hold them together. Of course, when I woke up the following morning with a thick head not only were all the problems still there but they also seemed 10 times worse.
“The most upsetting thing for me was how few people offered to help,” he added. “Over the years, I have tried to help everyone who has come into the England side in any way I could, even if it was just trying to make them feel welcome. As a struggling captain, I needed their help more than ever during that ill-fated tour. I needed an arm round my shoulder or a few nice words from someone. Even someone standing up in a team meeting and giving me a bit of backing would have been a start.”
Steve Harmison, Flintoff added, was always there to help him out, but his relationship with Fletcher was frosty from the outset, and culminated in a damning series of revelations in Fletcher’s own autobiography – in particular the incident in which Flintoff was fined for turning up drunk to a nets session during the CB Series. “I was not in the best of shape, although I wouldn’t say I was as bad as [Fletcher] has said I was,” wrote Flintoff. “I’m not going to try to make excuses because I know I shouldn’t have arrived for training smelling of booze. It was unprofessional but it was indicative of my state of mind at the time.
“As far as Duncan and I are concerned, it was a case of two people who didn’t get on being thrown together for eight months of the year as part of the England cricket team,” he added. “We had completely different views on life, the relationship didn’t work and it came to an abrupt end after the World Cup so it was clear he was not going to be very complimentary about me, although I’ve lost count of the number of times I was injured, or had jabs, while he was England coach, and played to help the team.”
On the subject of the Pedalo incident, Flintoff insists that the newspaper reports that he had to be rescued from drowning were way off the mark, although he admits that he may have “slipped and fell over in a few inches of water but nothing more”. “If you’ve ever woken up after having had too much to drink you’ll know how quickly the memory dawns, of how stupid you’ve been the night before,” he wrote. “I just thought to myself, “I didn’t, did I?”
His biggest regret about the Pedalo incident is the impact that it has had on his own reputation, and how it might affect his children growing up. “A lot of people saw it as a bit of fun, but I don’t want my kids going to school and hearing about their dad being in the paper after getting drunk on a pedalo. Like any parent, I want my kids to grow up proud of what I’ve achieved. I don’t want people taking the mickey out of them because of what I’ve done.”
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 and is filed under Cricket, General.
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