Only yesterday, he was writing his farewell script.
England's big burly all rounder has bid farewell to his whites. Andrew Flintoff, the legendary modern all rounder has ended his test career on a high by winning the Ashes and extracting revenge from Ponting and his men for 2007.
England are now left with a huge burden as they try to replace Freddie. Stuart Broad, son of Chris Broad is the likely person who can try to fill into the shoes of the big man. Flintoff, much in the news for his drinking habits constantly found himself trying to prove to his critics his ethic, as in the 2007 World Cup, but now his very 'not professional' career is at the hearts of the English who once were horrified by this merry all rounder.
Flintoff, a player who gave his 100% every time he stepped on to the field soon found himself down with many injuries. With a bowling action that put enormous pressure on his body, he soon found his body crash. But the man from Lancashire was a determined man, who carried himself into battle and put in his best and pulled together his team mates. His refusal to submit to any situation, irrespective of the odds and his refusal to admit that any situation over faced him shows just what a determined and hard man he was.
Geoff Boycott, once said that, "He never bowls a bad spell". This was true in many ways, as Flintoff with a ball was a beast who would run in at full speed and bowl fast, accurate and with plenty of energy. The 'go-to' man for wickets in tough situations, always bowled to the best of his ability. One of his best spell is against, the Australians when he brought a well settled in Stephen Flemming batting on 100 to a stand still. He had the ability to make the batsman dance to his tune. His 5-19 against the Windies showed just this. Flintoff, never really performed to his full potential against India, but watching him in the Chennai test when India chased down an huge total in the fourth innings, it was Freddie alone who was causing discomfort to Sachin, while all others gave easy runs. He was able to make the ball speak even on a dead wicket. Perhaps his greatest over he ever bowled was at Edgbaston, Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff bowled an amazing over 'The Over of the Series' as Mark Nicholas said. The over where he made Ponting look like an ordinary batsman. Really ordinary. [video]
Flintoff was always filled with energy ready to go at the batsman. He always seemed to have a few words to share from the slip cordon. He probably is one of the few who can match the Aussies in 'verbal disintegration' of the opponents.
Vaughan and Hussein both describe Freddie as their best 'go-to' man at their time of leading England. It must be no surprise that under Vaughan, he won the Ashes after 16 years in 2005, even if he surrendered it another 16 months. 2006-2007 Ashes is probably the only low in his action filled career.
As a batsman, Freddie was just as ruthless. With his counter attacking style, he was gem of a batsman to have down the order. With sheer muscle power he often cleared even the biggest grounds in the world with ease. In his prime, he could make a bowler go into a state of utter confusion. His duels with Warne are something, I'll never be able to forget.
He was an amazing fielder, and what a 'cowboy' throw he did when he ran out Ponting at the Oval. Often at slips, Freddie possessed one of the safest pair of hands in England.
We may have seen the last of him wearing whites, but surely he would live in the hearts of all cricket lovers. As the Oval saluted him again and again, there ought to be a recognition that we will never see his likes again.