Wednesday, July 15, 2009

England's Shoaib Akhtar

That is who Andrew Flintoff was.

Hindered by bad knees, broken ankles, and disciplinary problems, Flintoff never really lived up to his potential; much like Shoaib Akhtar.

Both Flintoff and Shoaib started their test careers around the same time; 12 years later both find themselves at the end of the road with unfulfilled goals; not due to a lack of ability but due to a lack of determination and drive.

I'm not saying that either cricketer did not have the determination to do well for their country; they just didn't have it in them to remain motivated for a sustained period of time.

Managing one's body is as much a part of a cricketer's career as working on one's batting and bowling.

Like Shoaib, Flintoff never really did that.

The late night drinking and partying, turning up drunk at practice sessions, drinking through pain; Flintoff never really changed his ways despite several warnings. Much like Shoaib.

He was one hell of a cricketer no doubt, but with a bowling average higher than his batting one in tests shows how Flintoff has not lived up to the tremendous potential he had.

He did manage to play 30 more tests than Shoaib Akhtar did during the last 12 years, but that's because of the higher number of tests England plays.

If you take a look at the number of tests both players missed during this time, it is about the same.

Flintoff really starred in only one series; the 2005 Ashes.

Besides that, he never really won matches or series for England on a consistent basis.

I feel Flintoff has let England down more often than he has helped them win; not through his mediocre performances but because of his indiscipline and injuries. A lot like Shoaib Akhtar.

I hardly remember a series that he played in full; again much like Shoaib Akhtar.

I hardly remember a tour in which Flintoff's indiscipline did not come to notice; again much like Shoaib Akhtar.

One area however, where Flintoff differs from Shoaib Akhtar, besides the genital warts, is that the realization of "enough is enough" has finally dawned on him.

The realization that the injuries are getting out of hand, the realization that he can no longer give his best for England in test cricket, the realization that it is time to go.

And hence comes Flintoff's announcement to retire from test cricket after the Ashes.

I believe Shoaib Akhtar should take a cue from this and do the same.

With the end of Flintoff, comes the end of yet another test career. Not a great career, however, but one that had the potential to be.

Make your pitch on this post...

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19 Pitched:

  1. Stani Army said...

    They relied on him too much. The other thing is this English thing with drinking, smoking and eating rubbish but still thinking it's alright - it's not. Some in the English game still think cricketers don't have to be athletes.

    If Shoaib and Flintoff were a few kgs lighter, would they have got the injuries they did? Would it have made a difference at that point in time when that little bit of an exertion to get a few more mph out of a delivery caused an injury? I think so, and so does Flintoff's ankle and knee.

  2. narkins said...

    Agree with alot of what you say, yes he didn't live up to his potential and should have looked after himself better.

    However it wasn't 1 series it was 2 years he was at his best. From June 2003 till the end of the 2005 ashes, flintoff hit 1993 runs at 43 and took 111 wickets at 27. Like when Akhtar was at his best he was a a class apart its a pity they both fell apart as much due to their own neglegence as injuries.

  3. Abhi said...

    That's unfair to Flintoff there Q. The guy ran himself to ground for his team. No one would ever accuse him of not giving his all for the cause unlike the sort of accusations against Shoaib. Infact if he had been handled carefully and not thrown the ball at every opportunity by his captains,he would have lasted longer. And 30 tests, you can't just discount 30 tests by the fact that England plays more, its still a heck lot more. He has on an avg bowled almost 1.5 overs per innings more than shoaib and thats despite the extra tests. In the last test too, he came back from injury and still bowled most overs. Saying that his career was cut short because of drinking and partying is just plain wrong for me.

  4. Indophile said...

    Well its OK anyway as once the Ashes ends England won't care about anything apart from next Ashes which is again in Australia where they are historically shit.So only thing after this Ashes is the next Ashes which is like four years away.So what the heck

    Shoaib Akhthar man I have seen all the modern day greats W's,Ambrose,Donald,McGrath on telly but for the sheer pace and excitement nothing absolutely nothing will ever compare to him what a bloody talent but again when he opens he mouth what a bloody waste

  5. RGB said...

    Quite unfair to Flintoff. His injuries were more due to the workload and not due to a casual attitude towards his fitness.

    Flintoff is definitely more committed towards the team. During the WI series he bowled despite a hip injury. Shoiab , on the other hand, was accued of faking an injury against India by Inzi.

    Flintoff did have his share of disciplinary problems. But I do not think anybody can hold a candle to Shoaib wrt indiscipline.

    And of course Flintoff did not take drugs.

  6. Q said...


    I think so too.. definitely it would have made a difference had they been more disciplined..

  7. Q said...


    My bad about that.. you are right.. it was a period of 2 years during which Freddy was a class apart.. sad that he couldn't live up to it.. again much like Shoaib Akhtar.

  8. Q said...


    Welcome to Well Pitched and thanx for the comment.

    Agreed that 30 tests is a major difference and also agreed that Freddy gave it his all whenever he played..

    BUT the similarity with Shoaib comes in the number of times both of them have let their teams down, not due to performance, but due to their off-field activities.

    Negligence is a major part of it. Read Stani's comment up above.. a little more care would have kept both players off the injury bench.

    Do you remember any tour in which Flintoff was not caught for an indisciplinary act or over drinking?

    During the 06 Ashes he was captain and arrived drunk at practices..

    That's the sort of thing that has resulted in his below potential performances.

  9. Q said...


    Exactly, what a waste of a career.

  10. Q said...


    Agreed that Shoaib's indiscipline record is unmatched but Flintoff and even Symonds for that matter come close.

    I don't think Flintoff ever let the team down when he was on the field; I say the same about Shoaib. Like Freddy bowling those 15 overs against WI with a bad hip, Shoaib also did the same when he turned up against India with a fever of 104..

    When on the field, both of them gave it all... undoubtedly..

    It was off the field where they both let their teams down.

    Flintoff did have a casual attitude towards fitness.. all his coaches have said that in the past too.

  11. adverbin said...

    Botham was much indisciplined as Flintoff. He played a lot more county cricket than Freddie between the international assignments. Yet their records indicate a wide difference. I personally think that Freddie could have been a competent all rounder while not in the class of a Botham, Imran, Kapil or Hadlee if the English could have accepted him as such. Trying to find a new Botham where one did not exist, they probably put too much pressure on Freddie.
    In isolation, his record remains that of a competent all rounder; had he been allowed to be a lower order bat and suppot pacer, his record might have been better.

  12. Q said...


    Like u compare Botham's indiscipline to Freddy's.. I can say the same about Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar..

    There is nothing that Shoaib has done off the field that the former 3 have not (minus the steroids), yet the former 3 never let all that affect their performances..

    Had Freddy managed his indiscipline (that just sounds wrong) like Botham, there is no reason why he could not have been just as great.

  13. Golandaaz said...

    The comparison doesn't work for me. It glorifies Shoaib, who I don't think is in the same class overall as Flintoff. Being an Indian supporter, I always looked at Shoaib as a runaway train and frankly a clown. Flintoff on the other hand evoked genuine respect. Shoaib is a one trick pony for the most part.

  14. Q said...


    Take a look at their records...

    I don't think I have glorified Shoaib in any manner...

    If you count the number of matches or series that they both have won for their countries, its apparent who the better one was...

    If both had unchequered careers with no injuries and indisciplines, who would you rate a better player based on the record?

  15. Golandaaz said...

    Shoaib Akhtar played for Pakistan on his terms. Only when he was fit, and when there was a Test Match scheduled to suit his convenience. He was missing exactly 50% of the time. He played 46 tests in the period when his country played about a 100. If this were Kapil Dev that's 50 odd tests less than he should have. He broke down more than an oppressed mother in a bollywood movie. Pakistan's record in the tests when he played v/s the tests he did not is not any different. Shoaib Akhtar gave exactly 50% of his ability to his country. With Flintoff you got a lot more. May be Flintoff's 100% is less than or equal to Shoaib's 50% in terms of pure numbers. It matters little. Imran, Akram, Waqar made you sit up and take notice. It somehow felt okay to lose to them and to beat them gave you (as an Indian fan) a sense of pure joy. The best compliment I can give Shoaib is that he is an entertainer. He might occasionally have you on the mat but all you needed to do was wait for him to break down in a comical fashion and sometimes with theatrics.

  16. Q said...


    Whatever u say abt Shoaib is not wrong.. I agree with everything you say except that he gave 50% when he played.. I agree that Shoaib gave his country only 50% of his ability, maybe even less.. but when he was on the field, he gave it his all.

    You say, "The best compliment I can give Shoaib is that he is an entertainer".

    That is exactly what I say about Freddy..

  17. Golandaaz said...

    Well Q, seems unlikely we will converge on this topic. I am just passionately critical about Shoaib and the last time he was in India, I doubt he gave even 10% when he was playing a Test. Flintoff too is not without his faults. There have been times when I have been suspicious of what he was drinking the previous night. He has looked dazed and reluctant on the field a few times. However I have never considered Flintoff, as bad a Shoaib. May be its my perception.

  18. Q said...


    There's nothing wrong with different perceptions and we can always agree to disagree..

    There are many people passionately critical about Shoaib.. I am as well, though I may have defended him one time too many, but I also believe he majorly screwed up his career...

    But then I feel Flintoff did the same..

    However, if retiring from test cricket can make Flintoff reach his awesome potential in the ODI and T20 game then there's no reason why he can't redeem himself.

    Shoaib sadly does not even have that chance..

  19. Q said...

    Oh and the last time Shoaib came to India, he was the only bowler pakistan looked like having.. he even played a test, the 2nd one I think, with high fever..

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