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Page last updated at 22:37 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 23:37 UK

Flintoff rejects England contract

Andrew Flintoff
Could this be the end of Flintoff's England playing career?

Andrew Flintoff looks set to become the world's first freelance cricketer after turning down an England contract.

The all-rounder is recovering from knee surgery and has rejected a lower-tier incremental deal in favour of short-term contracts around the world.

"I said when I retired from Test cricket my ambition was to become the best one-day and Twenty20 player in the world," the 31-year-old said.

"Playing in all these different countries can only help."

In refusing to sign the England and Wales Cricket Board deal, Flintoff is the first English player to turn one down since the central contract system was drawn up in 1999.

After reading Flintoff's press statement, an ECB spokesman said: "Clearly there is a lot to digest and we will make no comment until we have had a chance to consider it in detail."

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

Despite remaining committed to playing one-day and Twenty20 matches for England, the Preston-born star added: "I was flattered to receive the offer, which I wasn't really expecting, but at this stage of my career I don't think I need to be told when to play and when to rest.

"I have played international cricket for 11 years and know my body's capabilities."

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His agent Andrew "Chubby" Chandler met up with his client in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, having revealed at the weekend that Flintoff would play in next spring's Indian Premier League (IPL), while pursuing deals with teams in Australia, South Africa and the West Indies.

Should Flintoff's return to fitness go to plan he intends to make himself available for the one-day leg of the Bangladesh series, represent Chennai in the IPL and link up with England for the World Twenty20 in the West Indies.

Flintoff also insisted he would continue to play for Lancashire and said: "I enjoy playing under coach Peter Moores and skipper Glen Chapple is one of my best mates and I am desperate to help them achieve success at Old Trafford."

Lancashire's chief executive Jim Cumbes, meanwhile, voiced his backing for the popular all-rounder who intends to phase out four-day cricket with his county in the final year of his contract.

"Lancashire, as we have been throughout his entire career, are fully supportive of Fred's ambitions and we hope to see him play a leading role for us in our one day team's for years to come," Cumbes said.

"To that end, we are currently in talks with Fred and his management team about a new contract which will help support his goals and the ambitions of Lancashire."

Whether England picks him is open to debate. The ECB, currently paying the bill for former England physio Dave Roberts to assist Flintoff's rehabilitation in Dubai, may feel the player is motivated by financial considerations.

Australia's Ricky Ponting said a number of other players could now choose to follow Flintoff's lead "especially with guys retiring from Test cricket and only wanting to play the shorter forms of the game".

He added: "It's an individual decision and you can't begrudge the players doing that, especially someone like Flintoff who's played 70-odd Test matches and whose body has basically forced him out of Test cricket."

The incremental deal was thought to be worth approximately £50,000, with Flintoff's professional salary supplemented by Lancashire - while IPL side Chennai would pay him an annual fee of $1.55m (£935,000) if he is available for all their games.

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.



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see also
Flintoff's England future at risk
14 Sep 09 |  England
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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