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Flintoff as phenomenal as Sachin: Vaughan

Fred is not the most professional cricketer but can inspire the fans, says Vaughan

August 19, 2009, 11:43 AM IST
Flintoff as phenomenal as Sachin: Vaughan

London: He is not the most professional cricketer around, but former England captain Michael Vaughan says talismanic all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is second only to Sachin Tendulkar when it comes to lifting his team and the fans.

"At Cardiff, on the first day of the Ashes series, the atmosphere was dead for the first few hours but then all of a sudden Freddie came to the crease and the whole ground was lifted. It was phenomenal and no other player in world cricket - apart from Sachin Tendulkar - has that ability," Vaughan wrote in The Daily Telegraph.

"He was a great player to captain. He could be difficult at times, because he is not the most professional cricketer, but with Fred you accept the whole package," he added.

Flintoff will bid adieu to Test cricket after the fifth and final Ashes Test starting on Thursday at The Oval.

Vaughan said he always knew that Flintoff is a star but he came to realise the all-rounder's true impact on English cricket only after interacting with fans post-retirement.

"As England captain I had an awareness of how much Fred could lift the supporters, but the real significance of that did not sink in until this summer when I have sat in the crowd and seen at first hand his popularity," he revealed.

Recalling his equation with Flintoff, who also made headlines for his alcohol-related misdemeanours, Vaughan said the flamboyant cricketer needed to be comforted in tough times.

"Fred likes to be loved and he is quite soft at heart. He needs an arm around his shoulder because he does not respond to be ranted and raved at.

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"I would just talk to him and remind him what good a player he was and the impact he could have on the game," Vaughan said.

The former captain, who led England to the 2005 Ashes triumph, said Flintoff was at times quite a headache when it came to disciplinary matters.

"Fred was sometimes difficult to deal with behind the scenes and I wouldn't agree with the theory that he was the heartbeat of the dressing room.

"We had our ups and downs and there were times when I would think about the headaches he caused. We would have debates and confrontation but handling that is the art of captaincy and we always had respect for each other. We have become very good friends and in fact speak more now than we ever did," he said.

However, Vaughan said for all his frailties, Flintoff is an icon and would inspire generations to come.

"Overall Fred has been a great person for the game of cricket. The public look at him and remember how he has entertained them.

"Statistically he is not a great player, but I have seen at close quarters what he has brought to the England team over the last few years and also the fans don't care about stats," he said.

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 5046 120
2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 England 4366 104
4 South Africa 3177 102
5 Australia 3672 102
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 9349 260
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