Andrew Flintoff Legacy

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andrew-flintoffFlintoff, I’m afraid, wonderful as he was in 2005 cannot be considered one of the all time greats of cricket. The five great all-rounders of the post-war era are routinely considered to be:

– Sir Garfield Sobers (West Indies)
– Sir Ian Botham (England)
– Sir Richard Hadlee (New Zealand)
– Imran Kahn (Pakistan)
– Kapil Dev (India)

Comparing Sobers and Flintoff, of course, is a little like comparing a Rolex Watch and a Finders Crispy Pancake. They are so different comparisons are pointless. The others, however, are probably closer to Freddie but still some way ahead of him.

Whilst Flintoff has played some magnificent matches and was, in popular belief at least, the fulcrum behind England’s 2005 Ashes win (I’d think Michael Vaughan’s captaincy was probably ‘wot won it’ and, as it happens, made a hugely positive impact on Flintoff) he has never been consistent enough for long enough to be compared with these titans of the game. Furthermore, all too often he has bought into the leery, beery Barmy Army banter and, rather than play a proper innings, just waved his bat about in the vague hope of hitting a six. It got a cheer from the sozzled idiots but, well, that is IPL stuff really.. He took yeomanry qualities to a stratospheric level at points but at other points left us all scratching our heads.

When describing him news journalists use the same words and phrases – spirit, heart, ‘he put his body on the line’ and so on and so forth. Rarely do you see words like class.

Flintoff was a fine cricketer but he was not a Proctor or a Sobers and neither was he a Dev or a Botham. Ask me for my best ever all-rounder and the sentimental old goat in me might consider Flintoff for a second because, in cricketing terms, he gave me some of the happiest moments in my England supporting life. It would only be for a second, mind you, and then I would pick Sobers (or Dev. I was always a fan of Dev).

As above, he never really fulfilled his potential for a sustained period. Yes, against the Ozzies in 2005, he was phenomenal. His 141 over two innings at Edgbaston was astonishing. His afternoon spell at The Oval was genuinely one of the best pieces of sustained bowling I’ve ever witnessed. For two golden summers – in 2004 and 2005 – he was wonderful, one of the greatest cricketers in the world – but for sustained brilliance we must look elsewhere and I would contend that Flintoff compares poorly against the games greats and adequately against his own rivals in this era:

Flintoff vs The Big Four (Hadlee, Botham, Khan, Dev)

Career Runs
1) Dev 5,248. 2) Botham 5,200 3) Khan 3,807 4) Flintoff 3,645 runs 5) Hadlee – 3,124
Test Career 50s
(1) Dev 27 (2) Flintoff 25 (3) Botham: 22 (4) Khan 18 (5) Hadlee 15
Test Career 100s
(1) Botham 14 (2) Dev 8 (3) Khan 6 (4) Flintoff 5 (5) Hadlee 2
Test Career Wickets
(1) Hadlee 451 (2) Dev 434 (3) Botham 383 (4) Khan 362 (5) Flintoff 218
Test Career Five Fors
(1) Hadlee 36 (2) Botham 27 (3=) Khan, Dev 23 (5) Flintoff 2
Test Career Ten Wicket Matches
(1) Hadlee 9 (2) Khan 6 (3) Botham 4 (4) Dev 2 (5) Flintoff 0

Now you would be correct to point out that these greats have played far more Tests. So what of the bowling averages:*
(1) Hadlee 22.29 (2) Khan 22.81 (3) Botham 28.40 (4) Dev 29.64 (5) Flintoff32.07
and now the batting averages
(1) Khan 37.69 (2) Botham 33.54 (3) Flintoff 31.69 (4) Dev 31.05 (5) Hadlee 27.16

Flintoff does not compare favourably to any of these titans of the game. Never did he take 10 wickets in a match (here is hoping to three in the next three tests, mind!). Only twice has he taken 5 wickets in an innings compare that to Khan (who only played 88 tests).

There is no shame in that. These four are among the best players ever to hold a bat or wield a ball. To be mentioned in the same breath as them would be enough of an honour for most players.

Indeed, a cruel scholar would point to modern figures like Vettori, Kallis, Pollock, Jaysuriya and Cairns as fairer comparisons. I should state that each one of these players is an extraordinarily fine cricketer.

Flintoff vs The Current/Recent Contenders (Vettori, Kallis, Pollock, Jayasuriya, Cairns)

Career Runs
(1) Kallis 10,277 (2) Jayasuriya 6,973 (3) Pollock 3,781 (4) Flintoff 3,645 (5) Cairns 3,320 (6) Vettori (3,220)
Test Career 50s
(1) Kallis 51 (2) Jayasuriya 31 (3) Flintoff 25 (4) Cairns 22 (5) Vettori 19 (6) Pollock 16
Test Career 100s
(1) Kallis 31 (2) Jayasuriya 14 (3=) Cairns, Flintoff 5 (5) Vettori 3 (6) Pollock 2
Test Career Wickets
(1) Pollock 421 (2) Vettori 293 (3) Kallis 258 (4=) Cairns, Flintoff 218 (6) Jayasuriya 98
Test Career Five Fors
(1) Vettori 18 (2) Pollock 16 (3) Cairns 13 (4) Kallis 5 (5=) Jayasuriya, Flintoff 2
Test Career Ten Wicket Matches
(1) Vettori 3 (2=) Cairns, Pollock 1 (4=) Jayasuriya, Flintoff, Kallis

Again, Fred will have played less often than many of these (but only slightly fewer matches than Vettori and some more than Cairns).
Bowling Averages:
(1) Pollock 23.11 (2) Cairns 29.40 (3) Kallis 31.08 (4) Flintoff 32.07 (5) Vettori 33.55 (6) Jayasuriya 34.34

Batting Averages:
(1) Kallis 54.66 (2) Jayasuriya 40.07 (3) Cairns 33.53 (4) Pollock 32.31 (5) Flintoff 31.69 (6) Vettori 28.24

So there we have it. Fred doesn’t look out of place with the best all-rounders of the past 10 years or so but in none of the categories does he fit in the top two. Perhaps the most under-rated players here are Jacques Kallis (he of the incredibly boring batting) and Chris Cairns. Shane Warne, always good for an opinion, thought that Chris Cairns was the best all-rounder in the world when he was playing. As leading NZ journalist, Richard Boock, stated about Cairns:

”It’s not a scientific measure of course but if Cairns’ body had held together long enough for him to have played 100 tests, his figures extrapolate out to something like 5,334 runs and 351 wickets – very similar to those of Botham. He was, and should be remembered, as one of the game’s best all-rounders”

He is right to admit caution. However, extrapolating Freddie’s Figures in such a way would leave you with around 290 Test Wickets and 4,860 Test Runs which is quite some way short of , say, a Botham on both counts. Furthermore, Freddie, despite the odd big game, hasn’t done well enough often enough. He hasn’t taken enough ”5 Fors” nor has he ever taken 10W in a test. He will go down as an England hero for his Ashes performances and rightly so but he misses out on greatness for me.

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Andrew Flintoff Retires

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  1. David Siddall says

    to extrapolate his figures in such a way is a very problematic process. Freddie had such an abismal start to his Test Match career. His bowling did not really see any results until the 2003/4 series in Sri Lanka and he didn’t score his first ton until 2001/2 in New Zealand.

    I know some of the stats looking bk on full careers can be a cop out but still have some value.

    I just hope he propells himself to greatness in his final series. He will have to be going some as you quite rightly point out.

  2. Ali Bourne says

    I think we can see that at any given time Andrew Flintoff is the best bowling all-rounder in the world. I can’t see Kallis pulling out a bowling performance as great as that.

    England owe hime the world for that amazing performance. He truly is one of the best ever when he isn’t injured.

  3. says

    I beg to differ, Ali. A fine performance today (thankfully) but I don’t think he’s done it often enough, consistently enough to be compared with the real great all-rounders (Sobers, Botham, Dev, Hadlee, Khan) or even Kallis.


  4. Ali Bourne says

    i personally believe that he would have had he not been plagued by injury throughout his career.

    I know who i would have preferred to have had bowling out there today between Flintoff and Kallis.

    I think players like Flintoff are what makes a team go from being an ok team to a team that can beat the world number 1’s.

    Stats do not make players great. Kallis has a better bowling average but do you think that he is a better bowler than Flintoff? Flintoff doesn’t look great on the stats page but he puts his heart and body on the line when he steps out onto the field for England. for this reason i think he is a great and so would everyone that watched this mornings spell.

  5. says

    Come, come… Flintoff was immense this morning but it isn’t as if he’s only played 10 tests. The guy has played 76 tests, it is reasonable to evaluate over that period rather than bits and bobs that standout.

    Who would I rather have bowling? Probably Freddie because I’m a fan of his. Who would I rather have batting? Kallis… every single day of the year. This is only Flintoff’s third five-fer in 76 that isn’t great, in my opinion, even if he was great today. As an all-rounder who would I rather have in my team? Flintoff or Kallis? For one-off brilliance, Flintoff. For every game of the year excellence, Kallis.


  6. says

    I have to agree with you Rob on bowling.But lets not forget that Freddy does’t often does this sort of thing very often like he did at Lord’s, he was AMAZING!In my opinion I think he is more of a bowler than a batsmen on the other hand you have the Great KALLIS who is good in every department. Lets face it people Kallis is much better at performing either with bat or ball and he has shown a lot of times. He is a legend and Freddy is just a good cricketer

  7. says

    I have to agree with you Rob on bowling. Lets not forget that Freddy doesn’t do this sort of thing very often like he did at Lord’s, he was AMAZING. Kallis v Freddy, personally I’d pick the Great Kallis because he is perfect in every department(bowling, batting,etc…)With Freddy you can never be certain that he will perform on a given day but with Kallis there’s a solid guarantee that the he can bat all day for his country

  8. says

    Kallis is a legend and Freddy is a good cricketer and player by all means. Kallis is one of those players say 15 years from now when record books are opened he’s gonna be in those books


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