x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Flintoff's career in grave doubt

A huge question mark hangs over his career after the all-rounder was ruled out of English competitive cricket for the rest of the season.

A huge question mark hangs over whether Andrew Flintoff will ever play cricket again after the all-rounder was ruled out of English competitive cricket for the rest of the season. The 32-year-old, who lives in Dubai, announced his retirement from Test cricket after the 2009 Ashes series and will definitely take no part in England's bid to retain the urn later this year.

He will also miss playing for the Chennai Super Kings in next month's Champions League and possibly the Indian Premier League season. Flintoff has now been out of the game for a year after a major operation on his right knee last August and further surgery in January. He wanted to continue playing for England in limited overs games but the latest setback raises major doubts over whether he will ever be available for his country again. The all-rounder had been due to make a comeback for Lancashire, his English County Championship side, but was pulled out of a limited-overs game on Monday and a three-day second team match, starting yesterday.

"Following consultation with Andrew Flintoff, Andy Williams [Flintoff's surgeon] and our own medical team, Lancashire County Cricket Club have today confirmed Flintoff will not be returning to competitive cricket for the remainder of the 2010 season," a statement by Lancashire said yesterday. Mike Watkinson, Lancashire's cricket director, said: "While Andrew has made significant progress, the combined opinion is that he is not quite ready for a return to cricket. He will continue his rehabilitation into the winter months and we will constantly monitor and review his progress so that he is better equipped for a return to action."

Flintoff's full-blooded bowling action has always put stress on his body, but his right knee started becoming a major concern in 2009 when his time with the IPL franchise Chennai was cut short due to a torn meniscus. That required an operation and he was subsequently unable to take part in last year's ICC World Twenty20. He returned to fitness in time to begin England's victorious summer Ashes campaign but, missed the fourth Test and underwent surgery after the series.

Despite conceding that his injury problems would not allow him to continue in the longer format, he spoke positively about an international future in limited-overs cricket. But after yesterday's developments it is unclear when - or if - he will be seen again at the top level. * PA Tomorrow: What next for Flintoff?