Moments after England started celebrating their Ashes success, it was confirmed that Andrew Flintoff will undergo exploratory arthroscopic surgery on his injured right knee on Tuesday. He has been withdrawn from the England one-day and Twenty20 squads for the matches against Ireland and Australia during the summer as well as the Champions Trophy in South Africa.
Flintoff was severely hampered by his injured knee during the Ashes after he first damaged it at the IPL, before further aggravating it at Cardiff during the first Test. He managed to play at Lord's and Edgbaston, but was forced to miss the fourth Test at Headingley after Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower decided he wouldn't make it through the game despite Flintoff insisting he was fit. He returned for a triumphant finale at The Oval but was below full pace with the ball.
The ECB haven't revealed any further information on the procedure. "A further update on the outcome of the operation and the likely timescale for rehabilitation will be released in due course," the statement said.
Andrew Strauss, however, was confident that there would be "some great times" in Flintoff's career in the future. "Obviously he won't be playing Test cricket for us again, which is a very sad thing, but clearly his body can't take it anymore and I think we all understand that," Strauss said after regaining the Ashes. "He'll be desperate to contribute to England in any way he can going forward, whether it be 50-over cricket or 20-over cricket, but the most important thing is that he gets his body in good shape again which means taking whatever steps he needs to do that."
"At least he knows what he's going to go through, but it must be soul-destroying to have to go through that. But when you are there on the field when you win an Ashes series it makes it all worthwhile and there will be some great times in his career going forward I'm sure."
Earlier this week it was reported that Flintoff would undergo the same micro-fracture procedure that Michael Vaughan had in 2006 after his knee gave way on the tour of India. It took Vaughan more than a year to recover and the expectation is that Flintoff could be out of action for as long as nine months.
"My future now is Twenty20 and one-day internationals. I want to be the best one-day international player in the world and not playing Test cricket will let me concentrate on that," Flintoff told Sky Sports before The Oval Test. "I still want to play two more World Cups and there is still plenty for me to go on. I have got lots of ambition and want to play for England as much as I can in the short form of the game."