When Andrew Flintoff spoke to Farokh Engineer over the phone from Dubai on Thursday he was apologetic. Flintoff and Engineer go back a long way,and the England all-rounder,who retired from all forms of cricket on Thursday,was sorry that he couldnt break the news first to his friend. It was shortly after Engineer heard the news from the media that Flintoff called.
The 32-year-old retired after a rollercoaster career which featured dominant pace bowling and powerful shot making,most famously during the victorious 2005 Ashes that made him a genuine heir to Englands greatest all-rounder Ian Botham.
Flintoff and Engineer both wore Lancashire colours,though during two different generations. Flintoff often used to tell Engineer that he wanted to emulate his style. Engineer made a big impression on a young Flintoff,who used to watch the flamboyant wicketkeeper batsman play for local clubs from the stands.
Flintoffs decision to retire didnt come as a surprise to Engineer. He was always a fighter. It was always all or nothing with him. Even when he was only 50 per cent match fit,he would go in and give his all. He would say he never wanted to let his team down. He never let his knee get the rest it needed. And obviously thats taken its toll, Engineer,based in London,told The Indian Express.
When I first saw him,he was around 14. He was quite plump and would get quite a ribbing for it. In fact,we even had coined a nickname for him and called him podge. But he was talented. Even at that age,he would hit the most tremendous sixes imaginable,it would be quite astounding. When I saw him just a few weeks back,he looked so supremely fit but obviously that knee was bothering him. And that is the biggest irony, Engineer added.