In the second part of our interview with England cricket hero Andrew Flintoff, we get his thoughts on Kevin Pietersen, the Indian Premier League, TV summarisers and his work with the AF Foundation...
You mentioned Kevin Pietersen being the possible Ashes star. As a father yourself, do you think his recent poor run has anything to do with him becoming a dad?
I think you can look too much into it. I think he’s just had a dip in form. Everyone’s searching for these reasons, but it happens in cricket. You’re not going to score runs all the time. I think everyone would sooner he not scored heavily against Bangladesh and Pakistan when we’re coasting and then came good against the Aussies than the other way round. He’s getting a lot of criticism and he averages over 40 in a bad patch. A lot of the people that have criticised him are not even half as good as he is, so instead of criticizing we should be getting behind him. I had to get up in the night and early in the morning, but it was fine. When we had our first child I probably played the best cricket of my life, so people look too deep into it. KP’s just had a bit of a lean patch by his standards.
How did you overcome patches of poor form when they occurred?
You just keep working at your game. My dips in form always came because of injuries. I’d play for six or eight weeks then I’d have an operation and I’d be out for months. I always found it tough coming back. KP will be fine though, he’s too good not to be.
'KP will be fine. He's too good not to be'
Talking of injuries, what's been the most frustrating part of being injured this time?
Having to go to the gym every day and do exercises on various parts of your legs. I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating so much as boring. I’m lucky that I’ve got a young family and I enjoy spending time with them more than anything, but on the flipside it is annoying not being able to play.
How did you enjoy your brief spell in the Indian Premier League with Chennai Super Kings?
As a spectacle, the competition is unbelievable. I came away thinking after playing three matches that I’ve got to improve at this form of the game, because I got found out a little bit. I’d love to play for Chennai again. I was hoping that I’d be able to play for them next month in the Champions League, but being injured I can’t. Hopefully they’ll have me back for the IPL next year. Apart from playing at home it’s probably the best place in the world to play.
'I'd love to play for Chennai again'
How difficult is it to make the transition from the longer forms of the game to T20?
If you’re any good you can play all forms of the game. I might need to expand my game a little bit though. From a bowling point of view get some good slower balls and from a batting point of view try and learn some of these fancy flicks, but essentially I’ll still be trying to hit the ball straight and down the ground and trying to bowl Yorkers and things. I think your game can adapt to any form of cricket.
Away from the game, you've set up the AF Foundation. Tell us more about that.
It’s something I’m devoting a lot of time to at the moment. In fact there’s a function on November 10 at the Hurlingham Club in Fulham. We’ve also just started to build at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and once that’s finished we’ll go Great Ormond Street Hospital and pretty much every hospital in the country to make sure that kids have got access to good physiotherapy. It’s not a one or two year project, it’s something that will last probably for the rest of our lives. There’s so many things to do and we want every kid to have access to a state of the art physiotherapy department. It’s something that we’d like to grow and get bigger. It’s alright having a function or two a year, but you need an income stream all the time. My wife, Rachel, is driving it forward at the moment.
'If I turn into Mike Atherton you have my permission to shoot me!'
Did you enjoy your stint as captain on A League of Their Own?
Yes, but I don’t see myself as a panel show captain for ever or a sports show captain. They’re filming another series in the next few weeks and I wasn’t going to do it, but with the injury I can now. I’ve got other TV things that I might do – not in cricket, but in a broader area.
So, we won't be seeing you as a TV summariser like Michael Atherton any time soon then?
If I turn into Mike Atherton you’ve got my permission to shoot me! I don’t regard my opinions in the sort of high esteem as Michael does of his. He drones on and I just couldn’t bring myself to do that [laughs]. I’d quite like to do the travel and documentary side of TV and that’s something I’m exploring that the moment. I’ve been quite fortunate in that I’ve been offered various things but it’s about picking the right one that I can do justice to.
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