Contrary to suggestions that Andrew Flintoff should skip Indian Premier League to save his energy for the Ashes series, former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott says the lucrative Twenty20 event will prepare the all-rounder better.
Flintoff suffered a hip injury which ruled him out of the fourth Test against the West Indies, casting doubts over his participation in the second edition of IPL starting April 10.
“I’m not sure that is a realistic suggestion, unless the hip injury hangs around for a couple of months and completely incapacitates him. In fact, I would argue that the IPL could be exactly what he needs,” Boycott wrote in his column for the ‘Daily Telegraph’.
“Flintoff’s ideal preparation for the summer is regular bowling, but with a controlled workload. He generally gets through 30 or 40 overs in a Test – and that is too many for a man of his age and build.
“In the IPL, he only has to send down four. It’s the sort of short, sharp run-out that will keep his muscles and sinews all toned up for competitive action without putting too much strain on them,” he added.
Boycott also argued that age was not on Flintoff’s side and he should concentrate more on One-day and Twenty20 formats of the game to prolong his international career.
The former opening batsman also predicted that Flintoff’s Test career will see curtains once the Ashes is over.
“My hunch is that he won’t be playing much five-day cricket once this summer’s Ashes are finished. He might even retire from Tests altogether.
“Fast bowling is a young man’s game, and Flintoff will be 32 this coming winter. His spirit may be willing but his body isn’t, and the injuries are starting to come with alarming regularity.
“After the 2009 Ashes are over, I expect Flintoff to start concentrating on the 50-over and 20-over forms of the game. There is so much One-day cricket around these days that he should be able to extend his career by several years,” he said.
Boycott said once Flintoff retires from international cricket, IPL will be a perfect platform for him.
“You also have to consider where Flintoff’s future lies. If his body will not cope with being dragged around the international schedule all year long, the IPL is the perfect competition for him.
“A salary packet of 1 million pound for six weeks of slogging and short bowling spells – it’s almost like stealing money. He will be understandably reluctant to stand his new employers up when he could be building a long-term relationship with them,” he said.