Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gatting Warns Freddie against Ashes Burnout

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gatting Warns Freddie against Ashes Burnout

Article excerpt


ANDREW FLINTOFF must take a leaf out of Ian Botham's book of disappearing tricks if he wants to stay fresh throughout this winter's Ashes.

Like Botham 20 years ago, Flintoff will be the star attraction in Australia - constantly asked to do just one more interview, attend a hastily-arranged sponsorship event or greet another group of fans.

And, unlike his fellow all-rounder from England's triumphant tour of 1986, Flintoff must fulfil the statutory obligations that go with being captain, such as pre and post-Test press conferences, meetings with match referees and selection talks with coach Duncan Fletcher.

It will add up to a mighty workload - even before 'Super Fred' tries to win games with bat and ball - and there are some people who believe he is taking on too much.

Mike Gatting understands their concern. But the man who skippered England to their last Ashes series victory in Australia 20 years ago and encouraged Botham to move away from the spotlight on that tour, believes Flintoff can perform a successful balancing act between work and rest.

Botham, who scored a century in the First Test in 1986 and took five wickets in an innings when the Ashes were sealed, managed to unwind between games despite the demands on his time.

"This is one area where the management have to be very strict with Andrew," said Gatting. "One of my worries about him is that, rather like 'Both' before him, he's going to play a lot of cricket and needs to be able to get away and relax as well.

"I hope the management sit down and look at it all very carefully. And I hope people like Andrew Strauss [the unofficial vice-captain] and Duncan Fletcher will take on a lot of the off-the-field duties to give Fred time to rest so he can stay fresh."

The potential strain on Flintoff would have been a lot less if England had given the captaincy to Strauss and allowed their likeliest match-winnerto concentrate first on completinghis recovery from midsummer ankle surgery and then performing heroically as an all-rounder. …

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