Cricket team-mates - Rob Key: Andrew Flintoff would be a T20 superstar
"Andre Russell is considered one of the world's best T20 players now; Flintoff was a much better cricketer than Russell"
Last Updated: 15/06/20 2:08pm
In the latest of our series asking the Sky Cricket experts to lift the lid on their former team-mates, ROB KEY talks of the immense talent of Andrew Flintoff, the 'under-rated' Sam Northeast and the sleeping struggles of Min Patel...
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Flintoff. He could do everything, could Fred, apart from golf it seems - it's quite nice to finally find his Achilles heel.
Freddie is a victim of his stats. But stats never tell the whole story. He was the first name down on the team sheet in one of England's best ever sides - arguably the best. With the ball, I watched batsmen like Virender Sehwag actively look to get off strike against Freddie, even in India. And, with the bat, he could pick up one straight out of a wrapper - brand new - and still go and smash the ball out of the park!
Sam Northeast. He sits somewhere in that 'Rory Burns' type category, of not being as stylish as say, a James Vince. He is far from an ugly player, by any stretch, but he is very under-rated. We always hear how runs are the most important currency for a batsman, well he always performs.
The problem he has is that, if you're seen as a No 4, 5 or 6 batsman in county cricket, you really have little chance of playing for England at the moment, because you have Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow - all these names - ahead of you. It's going to be very hard for him to force his way in.
Who'd be a success in today's game?
Put Fred. And then Nasser Hussain can have a got at me about it! T20 was very much at its inception towards the end of Fred's career but, with the IPL now, Fred would be the most sought after cricketer in the world.
He hit the ball harder than anyone, he could bowl as quick as anyone, and was a great death bowler. Andre Russell is considered one of the world's best T20 players now; Fred was a much better cricketer than Russell!
Ed Smith. He'd have to have three bats lined up, in order, as he went out to bat. And, if he got out, he would often blame them for not being in the right way. I'd often try to mess them up a little bit, just to see what would happen. He would also strap his pads on and off repeatedly - playing with the Velcro 50-odd times.
Out of who I played with, I would say Paul Nixon. He was doing ice baths before they were fashionable. He'd sit in there for about 20 minutes! He was always looking to try and give himself an edge.
Fred, again. I wrote in my book that once, in his changing area at Old Trafford, it was so messy that I found a red wine-stained dinner jacket from the year before's PCA dinner! This had been lurking in there, dirty, soaked in wine, in among his cricket kit, for over a year. God knows why?
Best at football?
We used to have an award at Kent for the best footballer at warm-ups, and I'd win it every year! Second best was probably Steve Harmison, with England. Big Steve was a very good footballer, but every year he'd get slower - to the point where, now, I think milk turns quicker.
Worst to room with?
I was a very bad sleeper, so Min Patel was the worst, because he would never sleep. He wouldn't even try! He'd watch motor racing, anything that was on, at 3am and would often do The Times crossword before I'd even got up. I moved my mattress into the bathroom of the hotel once, just to ensure I couldn't hear him. And when he did sleep, he snored!
When I toured with England, we were in single rooms, and Fred and I would normally spend most of our time looking after a homesick Harmy. We'd watch Jimmy Nail, anything with someone in it from the north east, listen to Crocodile Shoes and read him excerpts of Jack Charlton's autobiography.
Worst taste in music?
Anyone born in the 1990s, particularly anyone who would put on dance music. Matt Coles would put on some horrendous stuff that I'd always have to change to something a bit slower.
James Tredwell, I'd say. When he played for England, and started earning a little bit more money, he used to turn up in some ridiculous gear. He's normally like me and doesn't really care about that kind of stuff - doesn't understand why you can't wear blue and black together - and so when we try to liven ourselves up a bit, we generally get it wrong. There was a period where he certainly went off-piste, you could say.
Min Patel. He is now a coach, and he is one of the shrewdest characters I came across, domestically or internationally. He is someone who thinks about the game in a way differently to others. His grasp of numbers and metrics like that is second to none.
Smith was another very shrewd judge. He was made for that [England national selector] role he has; he was watching cricket down in Canterbury, with his dad, from a very young age, when I was probably out on my BMX! He would remember more about innings' that the older Kent players had played than they would.
Who would you pick to be stuck with on a desert island?
Nasser, the least. He would argue the entire time, and I don't think he'd taste very good either, if you had to eat him. There's not much of him; he'd be a bit gristly! I'd have to pick Fred; the greatest human that has ever walked the planet!