|Event:||Australia in British Isles 2009|
DateLine: 25th August 2009
Looking back on a 79-Test career, of 3845 runs and 226 wickets, English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, hero of this country's cricket-loving public, insisted he failed to breach the top bracket of cricketers.
"I have never achieved greatness and I don't profess to," he said. "I was asked 'have you been a great cricketer?' by someone and the obvious answer is no.
"That's the Bothams, the Sobers, the Imran Khans, the Tendulkars, the Ricky Pontings, who achieved greatness over a long period of time, playing Test after Test after Test.
"I have performed at times and I am proud to have done that.
"For the bulk of my career I have played through pain and with injury, so to be out on the field was an achievement in some ways - but as for greatness? No."
Back in 2005 when Flintoff terminated Australia's 16-year monopoly on the Ashes with his man-of-the-series exploits, he looked oncourse to emulate the feats of some of those listed.
But then four ankle operations and now two doses of knee surgery shattered his dreams and forced a re-think. Post-operation he will be restricted to one-day and Twenty20 cricket.
Only when the damage in his right knee has been assessed will the extent of his lay-off be established.
"The reason I am having it is so I can play international cricket," said Flintoff. "However, not until I wake up from the anaesthetic, will I know the extent of what the surgeon's done.
"Obviously I can't get any 100% guarantees but I wanted him to tell me what it would be like afterwards.
"Having spoken to him, I am confident I will get back on a cricket field. You talk about incentives and there is no bigger incentive than to play for England.
"Whatever the rehabilitation is, however long it will take, I am prepared to do it to give myself the chance to play international cricket again."