More Freelance Flintoffs might serve England well
Andrew Flintoff’s decision to forego a contract with England and set himself up as an elite cricket freelancer has provoked a fair amount of grumbling in the media, with words like “mercenary” and “snub” being bandied about all over the place.
But whether you consider Flintoff’s decision ungrateful or not, consider for a moment whether it might not work out to England’s advantage.
As others have said, there’s nothing really new in Flintoff’s decision to go it alone. Other cricketers have made themselves available as players for hire in different parts of the world over a season.
The difference here is that Flintoff has made it clear that he is still available to play for his country at one-day international and Twenty20 level … and looking at the country’s recent results, how they need him.
According to recent media reports, the thought of having such a talented and marketable cricketer as Flintoff in their ranks has already drawn interest from teams in Australia and South Africa.
Fitness permitting, he will be on the auction block for the Indian Premier League and as long as his knees hold up he could follow the sun, playing some games for England (he has his eye on returning for the tour of Bangladesh early next year) and more for cash-rich teams around the globe.
Is there anything wrong with what Flintoff is doing?
It’s hard to think of an equivalent in another sport. David Beckham came to Europe to play a few months at AC Milan after his season in MLS was over. That was specifically to keep Beckham in condition to play for England, but Flintoff might make the same argument, as he looks to carry on until the 2011 World Cup.
While there may be dangers, won’t playing in all these high-profile, high-pressure tournaments make him a more effective performer for his country? Might England even consider that they could do with more players taking the freelance route — getting as much experience at the business end of matches around the world?
Wouldn’t that make them more effective performers when they pull on the England pyjamas?
PHOTO: Andrew Flintoff celebrates after dismissing Australia’s Peter Siddle during the second Ashes test at Lord’s, July 20, 2009. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty