The news that Andrew Flintoff will almost certainly not play again until the summer of 2008 hardly constitutes a shock. But, once again, it raises the question: will Andrew Flintoff play another Test for England?
By next summer, he will have missed no fewer than 13 consecutive Tests. He will still only be 30. But, after the plethora of injuries and operations, it will be an old 30. It is increasingly hard to envisage Flintoff rekindling the joie de vivre of 2004-05. Will he really be able to bowl 20 overs a day in Test?
The answer is probably no. He is a tremendously wholehearted bowler; but the downside of this is Flintoff puts huge strain on his ankle. His action, as Allan Donald claims, is flawed in that his front foot does not come down straight enough. Flintoff recently said “I'm happy with my action”. He seems very reluctant to make any major changes to it, with which he has claimed 348 international wickets. But he has to try in his extended lay-off – otherwise, even if he does return, it will not be for long. As Glenn McGrath has illustrated, however, it can be done.
Flintoff has often spoke of his desire to be a batting all-rounder. In truth, his bowling has long since been more important than his batting, which has disintegrated rapidly of late - he has simply forgotten how to build an innings. Even if he was fully fit, England could barely countenance batting him at six in Test matches. In ODIs, as he showed against India, Flintoff’s worth is still completely beyond doubt. After his latest setback, he will contemplate limiting his international future to the limited-overs game only.