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Page last updated at 10:50 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 11:50 UK

Flintoff issues burnout warning

By Anna Thompson
BBC Sport at Lord's

Flintoff has had four ankle operations and knee surgery
Flintoff has had four ankle operations and knee surgery

England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff fears other top cricketers may be forced into Test retirement early because of the heavy workload.

Flintoff announced on Wednesday he would be retiring from the five-day game after the Ashes series because his injury-ravaged body could take no more.

He said: "I believe we may see players' careers getting shorter."

Flintoff was passed fit to play in the second Ashes Test at Lord's after having injections in his knee.

The 31-year-old's right knee, which had recently been operated on, swelled during the first Test against Australia at Cardiff and he had to have pain-killing injections in order to be able to start in London.

But Flintoff is hoping that by quitting Test cricket, after having four ankle operations as well as knee surgery, he will be able to play one-day cricket for four more years.

When asked if international cricketers' playing schedules were getting too onerous, Flintoff replied: "I'm not going to sit here and grumble, but it is taxing on the body."

It is noticeable how fast bowling all-rounders are especially susceptible to their bodies breaking down because of the rigours of the game.

BBC Sport's Anna Thompson

In the last two years, Flintoff, Australia's Shane Watson, New Zealand's Jacob Oram and Dwayne Bravo of the West Indies have missed more than 60% of Test matches because of injury.

Only South Africa's Jacques Kallis has been able to play all Test matches in that time and is the statistical blip.

Knee surgeon Derek Bickerstaff, who has operated on former England captain Michael Vaughan and bowler Simon Jones, believes there is too pressure being placed on cricketers' bodies.

"There is too much cricket being played, and it is having a big impact on players," he said.

Oram has indicated he could follow Flintoff into Test retirement within the next 12 months.

He was Flintoff's team-mate at Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, and admitted his workload in all three forms of the game was unsustainable.

"I would love to keep going as an all-rounder in all forms of the game, but I realise that's a bit of a double-edged sword," the 30-year-old told Cricinfo.

"If I was to do so, I would pretty much halve the time I have left in the game. And, from recent experience, I can say that sitting on the sidelines for several months a year watching your team-mates play is mentally and emotionally draining."

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see also
Flintoff quits Tests after Ashes
15 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Flintoff's Test career in pictures
28 Sep 09 |  England
Reaction to Flintoff retirement
15 Jul 09 |  England
Lancs hope for Flintoff benefit
16 Jul 09 |  Lancashire
Bracewell hails Flintoff career
16 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Jonathan Agnew column
15 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Physio blames back-to-back Tests
15 Jul 09 |  England
Strauss century defies Australia
16 Jul 09 |  England
Harmison added as Flintoff cover
13 Jul 09 |  England
Flintoff to undergo knee surgery
24 Apr 09 |  England

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