Strauss - Fred not finished
England captain Andrew Strauss refused to criticise Andrew Flintoff's decision to turn down a central contract.
Last Updated: 16/09/09 2:32pm
England captain Andrew Strauss refused to criticise Andrew Flintoff's decision to turn down a central contract from the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Flintoff, who retired from Test cricket after the recent Ashes victory, snubbed the offer of an incremental contract from the ECB in order to retain control over his playing schedule.
The Lancashire all-rounder, currently working his way back to fitness following a knee operation, is now free to market himself as a freelance player in one-day and Twenty20 competitions around the world.
Strauss, speaking after England's fifth straight loss to Australia in the NatWest Series, insisted Flintoff's refusal to sign an ECB deal did not necessarily mean the end of his international career.
"I don't know the reasons he's turned it down," Strauss said.
"Those are conversations the ECB will have to have with him in the coming days.
"He's obviously got his reasons for doing it, but I don't know what they are at this stage.
"I think we need to sit down and speak to him as to the reasons he's done this - and we'll then make an informed decision about what that means to his availability for England, going forward.
"There's a reason he hasn't agreed to it, and we need to find out what that reason is."
Although the prospect of Flintoff picking and choosing his own playing schedule across the globe may not sit easily with the England hierarchy, Strauss was quick to point out that the talismanic all-rounder has not yet burned his bridges at international level.
"Anything 'Freddie' does is obviously big news. But I'm not going to sit here in judgement of him, because I don't know his reasons," he added.
"But I think if Fred is committed to playing for England he's still a great asset in the shorter formats of the game - and I'm sure he feels he has a lot of cricket left in him."
Australia captain Ricky Ponting, meanwhile, believes Flintoff's decision is a symptom of the changing nature of the sport.
"I don't know the ins and outs of it but it could happen more and more, especially with guys retiring from Test cricket and only wanting to play the shorter forms of the game," Ponting said.
"It's an individual decision and you can't begrudge the players doing that, especially someone like Flintoff who's played 70-odd Test matches and whose body has basically forced him out of Test cricket.
"It's inevitable it is going to happen. Players are going to make their mind up whether they want to play Test match cricket for their country all of the time or whether they want to play these other tournaments, so it's going to happen."