x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Free agent Flintoff keeps his ambition

Andrew Flintoff is determined to continue making an impact in cricket despite announcing his retirement from Test matches this summer and turning down a central contract from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

DUBAI // Andrew Flintoff is determined to continue making an impact in cricket despite announcing his retirement from Test matches this summer and turning down a central contract from the England and Wales Cricket Board. The 31-year-old all-rounder, who has set up home in Dubai while he recovers from knee surgery, insisted taking up freelance status will aid his ambition to keep playing the game for as long as his injury-prone knees will allow.

"It is not a case of money - it is ambition," he said. "There is plenty left in me, and once I do retire, there will be about 50 or 60 years of being retired, hopefully. I want to play as much as I can." Flintoff turned down the £25,000 (Dh149,700) incremental contract from the Cricket Board, essentially becoming a free agent and leaving himself open to bigger offers - such as playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition.

Having helped England to an Ashes victory this summer before undergoing surgery to his right knee, the England all-rounder now has his sights set on a swift recovery. With his availability for one- day and Twenty20 matches already confirmed, Flintoff will rest in Dubai with one eye on a return for England in Bangladesh next February. "I'm a cricketer. I love it. I've been fortunate enough to play for England in 79 Test matches, I think, and I don't know how many one-dayers," added the man who, when fit, has been integral to England's line-up since his debut in 1998.

"All I've ever wanted to do is play cricket. At 31, nearly 32, I'm not going to give up that chance while I feel I still have games left in me. "Before every operation, if I didn't feel I could come back and play to a standard that I want to, I wouldn't do it. There is a lot left in me." @Email:pradley@thenational.ae Full interview, s8-9