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Thread: Andrew Flintoff: Underrated

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    Eternal Optimist / Cricket Web Staff Member GIMH's Avatar
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    Andrew Flintoff: Underrated

    So I was thinking on the train home tonight, about all the things I've read about Flintoff on here lately, and further back as well. He's copped a fair bit on here since the end of the last Ashes, some fair enough, some not. Fair enough that his batting has gone into a fairly long decline - no century in any form of cricket since August 2005. Not fair enough that he's an awful batsman, for example. Well anyway, two things seem to be said quite a lot, they stand out to me:

    • He's overrated

    • He is a bit of a one-series wonder


    So, overrated. I find this interesting. I've probably overrated him in the past, everyone knows that to me Fred walks on water. But let's be honest, where do I do most of my cricket talk? Got a couple of mates in work that I discuss it with, aside from that, CricketWeb. Wouldn't have thought I would be the only member of this forum who is in this boat. And amongst CW (and my mates actually), common consensus seems to me that he is an awesome bowler, but should maybe bat at 7 for England now that we have a half-decent top six. Obviously some folk thing he should bat 8, it's even been suggested Broad should bat above him, some people still want him at 6, overwhelming opinion seems to be that if he plays he bats seven. But also, that if he plays, he bowls, and that we are so much stronger for it (if he stays fit). Without Flintoff, we potentially play with a bowling line-up of Sidebottom-Broad-Anderson-Panesar (maybe replace Hoggard for Anderson). It's decent, but not awesome. Replace Anderson with Flintoff and I am like, foaming at the mouth. I would actually get rid of Panesar, at least early in the summer, and play Hoggard, but that won't happen, nonetheless the sheer quality of Flintoff makes our bowling unit look so much better. When he is fit, I would take him over pretty much any fast bowler still playing, call me one-eyed, I don't care because I would.

    Anyhow, I digress. Overrated? To me, all the crap I read about how he's not fit to lace Mohammad Rafique's boots to me suggests people have decided to jump on him because he has not played a Test in two years. The fact that he hasn't played a Test in so long somehow means he is bad at them? Well it's bollocks, he is a cracking Test Cricketer, he is one of the best in the world when fully fit and if he plays the summer this year then everyone will be picking them in their bimonthly world XI threads again.

    And also, when he last played a Test I seem to remember a thread asking how good he actually was. Common view, from memory, was that he was a bowling all-rounder at tests who shouldn't have been batting in the top six but that in ODIs he was a world-class all-rounder. These days everyone seems to dismiss his ODI batting as well, even though he's only played a handful in the last year or so.

    And after the WC he was cited as a huge flop. Sure, he did flop with the bat, but his bowling was good, average of 21. Almost seems unfair to call him a flop, I do appreciate that his batting at the WC wasn't good enough, yet he was damned for being an all-rounder, we shouldn't have been relying on our best bowler to score runs.

    So no, I don't think he's overrated, because though he seriously needs to address his batting form, I've still seen him bat fantastically, and his bowling? Show me a better fast bowler that's still playing. You might be able to show me a few you think are better, but how many? Not many, because if you look up "world-class fast bowler" in the dictionary, there is a picture of our Fred rather than any words defining the term.

    Now to the other one, and this is my major gripe. When people say he is a one-series wonder. Let's look at this.

    In the 2005 Ashes, Flintoff averaged 40 with the bat and 27 with the ball, rightly applauded as a tremendous effort, seeing as it was against the best side in the world and all. His overall averages are both 32, so yes, that series was a performance someway above his overall career record. Except we all know two things about Flintoff:

    • He is a better player than is suggested by his averages, even his detractors know this

    • He genuinely was picked too early


    I am not one who prunes stats that often or even gets involved in stat-based debates, I find them fascinating but I don't really like to contribute. But I do believe that if we take a look at a few years of Flintoff's career rather than the whole lot, if gives us a true measure of how good a cricketer he genuinely is.

    I didn't know where exactly the best starting point was, so I just went with 1/1/03, rather than using any scientific method, picking any particular point etc. In this period he averages 38.56 with the bat and 28.97 with the ball. This, to me, shows that the Ashes was no fluke, it was no statistical anomale, it was slightly above his form voer the past and following years, ie the performance of a true all-rounder.

    In this period, only against two sides does Flintoff average figures that I consider to be poor with the bat, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. And only against Pakistan would I say his bowling averages are disappointing, at 35. And against Pakistan, I remember his bowling in that series, 35 didn't do it justice, he bowled bloody well.

    I could go on all day, I really could, I'm sure nobody is even reading now anyway, but if you are, well I hope you've seen my point. I don't expect many to agree with it, but to me, Flintoff is a great cricketer, I am desperate to see him play a few more years as he will surely delight us once again like no other can. Put simply, I think he is the best English cricketer of his generation, the Botham comparisons never did do him any favours, but he is the greatest personality and all-rounder we have had in our game since him. I hate the way everyone is so quick to jump on him these days, it is such an English thing to, let us bow down to him when he wins us the Ashes, and jump on him when he has battles with injury that collide with a severe loss of form with the blade.

    Andrew Flintoff is not overrated, the way some round here go on about him, he's underrated. Andrew Flintoff did not just have one great series, he had a few great years. I'm pretty sure he'll be playing Test Cricket again next Thursday - welcome back Fred, you have been missed.
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    Cricketer Of The Year Anil's Avatar
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    it depends on how you rate him, if you compare him to botham, he is overrated, if you consider him as a great allrounder, he is overrated, if you consider him as a good allrounder and among the best in this era, you are probably rating him correctly, if you are rating him lower than that, then he is being underrated...

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Haha, impressively done. Plenty I agree with in there, most notably the parts about all-rounders being termed a "flop" because one discipline was poor despite the other being palpably better than anyone else in the side (remember this particularly well when some idiot said Craig White should be dropped in The Ashes 2002/03 because he wasn't scoring any runs), and the parts about Flintoff not being a one-series wonder, and the fact that looking at his career averages tells you approximately nothing, and the fact that someone who's been out of the game for ages often gets completely written-off (specifically Vaughan this time last year, was truly wonderful to see him return as we hope Flintoff might now do).

    Flintoff is not in Botham's class, that much was always fairly obvious to me and is now probably fairly obvious to just about everyone. But he is a very good all-round cricketer.

    BTW, should make it a feature TBH. A few modifications I'd put in there myself (won't mention them now so as to maintain an element of surprise), and maybe less of the first-person speak, but if you'd be happy (and Gelman is happy) then we could put the thing up in the name of the two of us.
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    School Boy/Girl Cricketer JerseyGuy's Avatar
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    OVERRATED....OVERRATED...OVERRATED...accept it...will you?


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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Nope. Especially not via silly comments from know-nothings.

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    Eternal Optimist / Cricket Web Staff Member GIMH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    Haha, impressively done. Plenty I agree with in there, most notably the parts about all-rounders being termed a "flop" because one discipline was poor despite the other being palpably better than anyone else in the side (remember this particularly well when some idiot said Craig White should be dropped in The Ashes 2002/03 because he wasn't scoring any runs), and the parts about Flintoff not being a one-series wonder, and the fact that looking at his career averages tells you approximately nothing, and the fact that someone who's been out of the game for ages often gets completely written-off (specifically Vaughan this time last year, was truly wonderful to see him return as we hope Flintoff might now do).

    Flintoff is not in Botham's class, that much was always fairly obvious to me and is now probably fairly obvious to just about everyone. But he is a very good all-round cricketer.

    BTW, should make it a feature TBH. A few modifications I'd put in there myself (won't mention them now so as to maintain an element of surprise), and maybe less of the first-person speak, but if you'd be happy (and Gelman is happy) then we could put the thing up in the name of the two of us.
    Maybe take that discussion elsewhere, but cheers Rich - was actually expecting you to tell me that starting at Jan03 was about 8 or 9 months too early tbh

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    That's one of the little tweaks I'd make.

    Fire me off a mail and we'll talk.

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    Eternal Optimist / Cricket Web Staff Member GIMH's Avatar
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    done that mate

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    Its impossible to say that, particularly when the player is still in mid career. If he was having a great year, more people would have said he is under=rated and vice versa. Most people find it difficult to separate current form from their assessment.

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    Virat Kohli (c) Jono's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anil View Post
    it depends on how you rate him, if you compare him to botham, he is overrated, if you consider him as a great allrounder, he is overrated, if you consider him as a good allrounder and among the best in this era, you are probably rating him correctly, if you are rating him lower than that, then he is being underrated...
    Agreed.

    I just find it funny how if you go back to the end of 2005, a lot of the recent polls would have been different. I honestly believe Flintoff would have smashed Cairns in that poll (not saying he should have, as I voted Cairns) and he would have given Pollock a run for his money too.

    It shows how fickle fans are. Flintoff is copping what Tendulkar copped from 2005-2007. As if people forgot all the brilliant things he did for so long, and with his constant flow of injuries, he looked human, and hence is therefore no good anymore.

    On top of that, Freddy hasn't even done 1/4 of what Sachin has done in his career, so the frustration you're feeling is tenfold for Sachin fans who have had to read misconceptions about how he's overrated and that Yousuf, Ponting, Dravid or Kallis will go down as better batsmen.
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    State Vice-Captain gettingbetter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anil View Post
    it depends on how you rate him, if you compare him to botham, he is overrated, if you consider him as a great allrounder, he is overrated, if you consider him as a good allrounder and among the best in this era, you are probably rating him correctly, if you are rating him lower than that, then he is being underrated...
    I concur with this. It is undeniable that Flintoff was getting better since his debut especially around 2003 where the roll started and 05 and the series in India has raised him to heights he really should be proclaimed to.

    Making comparisons to Botham is stupid and calling him a great all-rounder is an absolute insult many all-rounders that have played the game. I admit this may be a hyperbole, but I find it hard to make too see Flintoff's name alongside Miller, Sobers, Khan, Dev, Hadlee etc etc, and even in his time, I don't think Flintoff is in the same league as Pollock and Kallis.

    What separates Flintoff from the aforementioned players is that he has only has had a period of form, while the others (Kallis possinly being excluded) have had careers of dual discipline performances.

    I thnik a lot would be allevaited if Flintoff was labelled a bowler or a bowler who can bat at the end of the day.

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    International Coach social's Avatar
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    Top quality bowler - figures dont always portray his efforts and has been unfortunate to sustain injuries when at his peak (although I believe ankle problems are related to technical problem - have a look at position it lands and it was always going to cause him problems)

    Talented with the bat but very average technique = inconsistency

    Excellent catcher

    Underrated captain

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Burgey's Avatar
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    Wouldn't say he's overrated or underrated tbh. Just very frustrating that he'shad this run with injuries which have prevented us form being able decide where he really rates when fully fit over a long period.

    Then again, you might say the same thing about Cairns, Watson or a number of other all rounders. They seem to attract injuries more often than other types of players. Then again, that may be coz there's less of them and they therefore stand out like dogs' balls.
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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jono View Post
    Agreed.

    I just find it funny how if you go back to the end of 2005, a lot of the recent polls would have been different. I honestly believe Flintoff would have smashed Cairns in that poll (not saying he should have, as I voted Cairns) and he would have given Pollock a run for his money too.

    It shows how fickle fans are. Flintoff is copping what Tendulkar copped from 2005-2007. As if people forgot all the brilliant things he did for so long, and with his constant flow of injuries, he looked human, and hence is therefore no good anymore.

    On top of that, Freddy hasn't even done 1/4 of what Sachin has done in his career, so the frustration you're feeling is tenfold for Sachin fans who have had to read misconceptions about how he's overrated and that Yousuf, Ponting, Dravid or Kallis will go down as better batsmen.
    Fickleness is often the preserve of the impulsive. All that shows is that trying to rate a player mid-career, never mind after their greatest achievement, is a very bad idea as it leaves us open to these implusive thoughts from those that way inclined.

    I said this in the Flintoff-vs-Pollock thread, of course.

    Implusiveness among cricket fandom is of course one of my pet-hates, one of the most obvious cases where it was wrong was Harmison in early-2004. But there's copious others. It's something I know I have little hope of ever changing, though.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gettingbetter View Post
    I concur with this. It is undeniable that Flintoff was getting better since his debut especially around 2003 where the roll started and 05 and the series in India has raised him to heights he really should be proclaimed to.

    Making comparisons to Botham is stupid and calling him a great all-rounder is an absolute insult many all-rounders that have played the game. I admit this may be a hyperbole, but I find it hard to make too see Flintoff's name alongside Miller, Sobers, Khan, Dev, Hadlee etc etc, and even in his time, I don't think Flintoff is in the same league as Pollock and Kallis.

    What separates Flintoff from the aforementioned players is that he has only has had a period of form, while the others (Kallis possinly being excluded) have had careers of dual discipline performances.

    I thnik a lot would be allevaited if Flintoff was labelled a bowler or a bowler who can bat at the end of the day.
    Of course Flintoff is not even close to being of the class of Miller, Imran, Botham, Kapil, Shaun Pollock, etc. Nor to George Hirst, that early and oft-forgotten all-rounder. Monty Noble I'm sure is worth a place alongside him too - he's someone I've been getting a little more familiar with very recently.

    As regards the likes of Kallis, Hadlee... well, while Flintoff is obviously an inferior cricketer, and by a fair bit, to those two... I don't really feel any comparisons are fair. Neither of the aforementioned two, nor Flintoff, are what I'd call true all-rounders. Sobers wasn't either, of course, but he was a freak of nature to whom no-one should be compared.

    I'm always reluctant to start comparing all-rounders to other all-rounders when there is blatantly a notably stronger suit involved. Kallis is not an all-rounder and only ever was for the first 3 years or so of his career. Hadlee was not an all-rounder, he was a bowling-all-rounder - his bowling was notably stronger than his batting.

    Flintoff is incomparable to Kallis and obviously not as good as Pollock. But he is still a very, very fine all-round cricketer. It's like the Hobbs and Sutcliffe thing - people tend to underrate Sutcliffe because there was someone who just happened to be even better at the same time as him, despite the fact Sutcliffe has a decent case for being the second-greatest opening-batsman in Test history, after his partner. Pollock was a phenomenal all-rounder. Don't let his phenomenal-ness detract from Flintoff's excellence. Just because one is not the premier all-rounder of one's time means little.

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