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Jonathan Agnew column

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew interviews England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff's retirement from Tests has not come as a surprise to Agnew (left)

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Andrew Flintoff's decision to retire from Test cricket was hardly a surprise - we have all been speculating for months that this seemed to be the most likely sequence of events - but the timing of the announcement was not expected.

It seems to me that he has had another painful week - more injections in his right knee on Monday - and that he has now tired of his own uncertainty over whether or not he is fit to play from day to day.

If anything, this will galvanise England and might just inspire something special from their talisman in the course of what is now his final series.

We shouldn't feel too sorry for him either. He will still play for England in limited overs matches and Twenty20 and, of course, he will now be available for the IPL full-time - that means picking up his full £1.1m.

Other leagues inevitably will spring up elsewhere, and by not playing Test cricket, Flintoff will almost certainly be extending his one-day career.

BBC Sport's Anna Thompson

He passed a fitness test on Wednesday, but needs to wait until the morning of Thursday's second Test before being able confidently to say whether he can get through five days or not.

The pitch has more grass on it than I have seen at Lord's for many years.

It won't look so green in the morning, but it does confirm that England will probably drop one of their spinners - most likely Monty Panesar - and if Flintoff is fit, leave the final place between Graham Onions and Steve Harmison.

That won't be straightforward, especially if Andrew Strauss has to be careful about over-bowling Flintoff, but technically, Onions is ahead in the queue.

Strauss described the team meeting this week as "honest" and said that his players accepted their mistakes at Cardiff.

He suggested that nerves had played a part there, and there might be an element of truth in that, but whatever the cause, England have to put together a much improved and stronger showing here.

It will be interesting to observe the relationship between the two teams after Ricky Ponting's comments following the time-wasting at Cardiff.

He was right to be critical, and England were out of order, but in taking the high ground, Ponting has left himself, and his team, open to accusations of hypocrisy.

Ponting himself tried to con the umpire into giving Paul Collingwood out to a catch which came from the face of the pad, and he charged the umpire - something that is definitely not in the spirit of the game.

All cricketers are guilty of gamesmanship in one way or other - not walking is another - and Ponting might yet regret his attempt to portray his team as angels.

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see also
Flintoff quits Tests after Ashes
15 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Reaction to Flintoff retirement
15 Jul 09 |  England
Strauss century defies Australia
16 Jul 09 |  England
Defiant England cling on for draw
12 Jul 09 |  England
Ashes Ten to Tackle
08 Jul 09 |  Funny Old Game
The Ashes: head-to-head
04 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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