Some things in life are inevitable, the sun sets in the west, England’s footballers can’t win on penalties and Freddie Flintoff was always going to get an injury while filling his boots in the IPL.
The knee injury which cut short Flintoff’s South African sojourn will keep him out for up to five weeks, ruling him out of the test series against the West Indies, though the hope is he can return in time for the Aussies’ arrival in July.
The injury again raises the question about English players’ participation in the IPL. England’s central contract system was supposed to ensure elite English players are in the best condition for international cricket and monitored closely in order to benefit the England side.
This is exactly the sort of situation the ECB feared when they prevented English players from playing in last year’s inaugural IPL competition. But player-power has forced their hand with disastrous, yet perhaps predictable, results.
Now I know Flintoff’s injury could have easily occurred while on duty with Lancashire, but he would be much more on the leash, and in the ECB’s sights, if he was playing over here with his county. There was certainly a greater risk of injury playing in South Africa – especially as he had only just returned from a hip injury anyway.
The ECB have to be careful because with the pound signs ringing loud in the ears – and wallets – of IPL participants the other forms of the game are put in the shade. It was highlighted in a recent news report that Flintoff, at 31, perhaps cannot cope with the all-year-round nature of today’s cricket calendar and so may have to choose which game he wants to concentrate on.
Well it wouldn’t take a genius to work out which form of the game he would choose (ker-ching!)
Perhaps the ECB could have reminded Flintoff what happened when England won the Ashes four years ago? Freddie did well enough financially on the back of that series but in chasing the quick and easy money may have jeopardised England’s chances of taking back the urn come July.
The attitude of Aussies Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey and Mitchell Johnson, who all gave up the IPL money in order to recharge ahead of their arrival in England, points to their priorities this summer.
If they are successful in retaining the Ashes, it seems a safe cricket bet to make that most people will point to that preparation – or England’s lack of it – as a factor.