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Jul 15, 2009

Flintoff retire from Test cricket at end of Ashes

Andrew Flintoff to quit Test cricket at the end of the ongoing Ashes series against Australia, the injury-flat England all-rounder announced here on Wednesday.

The 31 years old, who has played 75 Tests for England since his debut in 1998, will though persist to make himself available for selection for One-Day Internationals & International Twenty20 fixtures, report issued by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said.

Andrew Flintoff was the big star of England's 2005 Test series win over Australia as the team recovered the Ashes for the first time in 18 years.

But injuries have shattered his career and he now has to overcome a knee problem, continued in last week's drawn first Test against Australia, if he is to play in the 2nd match of the current Ashes series starting at Lord's here on Thursday.

"My body has told me it's time to stop," Andrew Flintoff, who had to have an operation of his right knee after injury in April cut short his stretch in the profitable Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL), said in an ECB statement.

"Since 2005 I've had two years when I've done nothing but rehab from one injury or another," added Flintoff, who awaiting last week's Test had not played for England this season because of injury.

"It's been something I've been thinking about for a while and I think this last problem I've had with my knee has confirmed to me that the time is now right."

England skipper Andrew Strauss, still waiting on Flintoff's fitness before he knows his team for the 2nd Test, said he'd been expecting the Lancashire star's decision.

"From a player point of view, this is not that surprising - it has been coming for a while, with the injuries he has had," he said.

"We are obviously very disappointed and feel for him, because he is still an attractive young guy. But he knows his own body better than anybody.

"We respect his decision and hope he can go out with a bang."

Former England skipper Michael Atherton praised Flintoff's input to his country's team but questioned the timing of his decision.

"It's curious timing because apparently if Flintoff didn't play in this game and England did well and won, what do they do?

"Do they go back to Flintoff with the end of the series looming when he's not going to be playing beyond that? It's not yet certain he'll get a grand ending or farewell."

Even so, Atherton said Flintoff will feel "absolutely fulfilled" when he looks back on his career.

"He has been a very good Test match cricketer, not a great one but a very good one who had a great series in 2005. His career's not over because he'll want to play some more one-day international cricket. I think he'll feel absolutely fulfilled."

Another former England captain, Graham Gooch, said Flintoff's retirement from Test cricket likely a "big loss" but said the modern workload of Tests, one-day and Twenty20 cricket was a big load.

"It is a big loss for English cricket, because he has a presence about him. He's not been the biggest power on all the Test matches he's played. But he does have a presence, and that brings others along with him," Gooch told BBC Radio.

"He has the aptitude to be able to get big players out. Certainly that was shown at the height of his career when England won the Ashes in 2005."

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