Well. What started out as a great morning sports-wise after watching Arsenal purring around the Emirates like a Rolls Royce last night, with the additional excitement of a big plate of fried chicken in front of me (what an evening!), has turned into an afternoon of semi-mourning with the news that Andrew Flintoff is retiring from all forms of cricket. Now, I have my issues with Fred, not least of which is him living as a tax exile in Dubai, which is where, let's not forget Peter Ebdon lives, for Christ's sake! Snooker's own policeman! You can do better than that, surely, Fred? What do you do - meet up once a month for a game of golf and discuss your tax saving quotient? Maybe once a week email Geoffrey Boycott on Jersey and laugh at how little he is saving each year compared to you boys? But taking that one factor into account as well as having an agent called "Chubby", wearing ridiculous diamond studs and embarking on a shameless friendship with James Corden, last summer at Lord's when he bowled it looked like he was playing a different game to Broad and Anderson - that is how unplayable he was. He made the Australian batsmen look like they'd never faced anything like it. And that look he gave each time he ended his follow through! Almost in the crease with the batsman, looking at him like he wasn't even deserving of a fully fledged insult. Just the look. Like he didn't really understand what the batsman thought he was doing there. He was great that day, and I almost forgave the diamond studs and dinners with Piers Morgan. Almost.
I think more sad than Fred's retirement, which, let's face it, has been coming all year, is that this really feels like the end for a certain type of cricketer - the big, drunk fast bowlers. And the unkempt genius batsmen. The gloriously amateurish fielders that made cricket great. Now it's all hair gel, trion bracelets, wedding ring necklaces, and nicknames ending in "Y". Well groomed footballer types that accidentally find themselves playing cricket.
Jesus. Bring back the drunks.