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Flintoff's England future at risk

By Oliver Brett

Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff's England playing career could be over already

Andrew Flintoff may decide against signing a contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board, a move which would threaten his international future.

Flintoff, 31, has retired from Tests but has been offered a lower-tier "incremental" contract to play limited-overs internationals for England.

However he is keen to play Twenty20 cricket in domestic leagues worldwide.

The all-rounder will spend the next few days in Dubai discussing with his agent whether or not to sign the ECB deal.

Flintoff gave up Test cricket after helping England win back the Ashes in August, and is currently on crutches recovering from recent knee surgery that will rule him out of cricket for the next six months.

His agent Andrew "Chubby" Chandler is flying to Flintoff's temporary base in the United Arab Emirates on Monday where the two will discuss the pros and cons of an ECB tie-in.

Chandler told the Observer newspaper that Flintoff would play for Chennai Super Kings in next spring's Indian Premier League (IPL), while pursuing deals with teams in Australia, South Africa and the West Indies.

However, that sort of schedule would restrict the number of appearances he could reasonably be expected to make for England as they look to build a team capable of challenging for the 2011 World Cup.

606: DEBATE
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And if he refuses to sign his ECB deal, he would effectively become a freelance cricketer - and the first English player to do so since the central contract system was drawn up in 1999.

Flintoff's spokesman Myles Hodgson told BBC Sport: "I wouldn't want to second-guess the meeting between Fred and Chubby, but what Fred has said to me is that whether he signs a contract or not he wants to carry on playing for England."

The incremental deal is thought to be worth approximately £50,000, with Flintoff's professional salary supplemented by Lancashire - while Chennai would pay him an annual fee of $1.55m (£935,000).

But England team director Andy Flower has said his players can take part in only three weeks of the IPL next year if they are picked to tour Bangladesh in February and March.

The IPL will run from 45 days from 12 March, while the exact dates for the Bangladesh tour have not yet been announced.

That means Flintoff, the joint highest-paid player in the IPL along with Kevin Pietersen, could stand to lose around half his Chennai fee by going to Bangladesh.

However Flintoff and Chandler must consider the fact that if the all-rounder rejects the ECB contract, Flower is unlikely to allow the fan's favourite to play when he pleases.

And that will complicate the situation for Flintoff, because as an international outcast he may not be able to command such high fees from domestic Twenty20 leagues.

Flower, when asked about the possibility of resting Flintoff for the tour to Bangladesh, said: "We wouldn't welcome a situation like that. I don't think there are going to be huge negotiations over what type of games he plays.

"Fred will be available for one-day international and Twenty20 cricket for England. Simple as that."

The ECB declined to comment further on the issue, but Hodgson suggested that, whatever Flintoff's decision on whether to sign his contract, further negotiation between the two parties would be required.

"I'm sure Chubby will have a chat with the ECB along those lines, but the first step is to talk to Freddie about the incremental contract and for Freddie to get fit. I don't know about any other plans."



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see also
Flintoff recovery set for Dubai
08 Sep 09 |  England
Surgery complication for Flintoff
06 Sep 09 |  England
Flintoff admits fears over career
30 Aug 09 |  Cricket
Flintoff undergoes knee surgery
25 Aug 09 |  England
Flintoff's Test career in pictures
28 Sep 09 |  England
Victorious England regain Ashes
23 Aug 09 |  England
IPL reveals 2010 schedule changes
11 Aug 09 |  Cricket
Flintoff quits Tests after Ashes
15 Jul 09 |  Cricket


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