ancashire and England legend Andrew Flintoff has reflected fondly on two series he played against India, admitting that a tour there in the winter of 2001 resurrected his Test career.
Flintoff was speaking in the build up to the fourth Test between England and India, which starts at Emirates Old Trafford tomorrow with the five-match series perfectly poised at one apiece.
The now 36-year-old, currently back in the pro game with Lancashire on a Twenty20 contract, also admitted that captaining England in a drawn series in 2005/6 was one of the highlights of his career.
Flintoff claimed the man-of-the-match award in a famous third Test victory at Mumbai, which helped square the series at one apiece.
He had debuted in Test cricket in 1998, but the early years of his career were hit by injury and the odd loss of form. He found himself out of the side from midway through the summer of 2000 until the early winter of 2001.
“I’ve got mixed memories of playing against everyone to be honest, but my Test career was revived against India in India, as a bowler primarily, and that 2005/6 series was amazing,” said Freddie.
“To captain a young side playing against the likes of Tendulkar and Dravid, it’s up there with anything I’ve ever done.
“I got picked to go to India from obscurity in 2001. I was at the Academy, and I couldn’t spell bat. But I managed to bowl alright and get myself back into the England side.
“I think I got out a few times to Anil Kumble in that series to get him to 300 Test wickets very quickly!”
With the scoreline as it is in the current series and two Lancashire players set to play for England in Jimmy Anderson and Jos Buttler, this Test has all the makings of an absolute cracker.
“It’s all hotting up, and there’s been a few things happening on and off the field in this series,” added the two-time Ashes winning all-rounder.
“It’s always good playing against India because you’re playing against some of the best players in the world, and that’s what you want to do as an England player.
“It will probably be a packed house at Old Trafford. In my experience of playing them at Old Trafford, it will probably be like an away game. The public in Manchester will come out and support England and India.
“There’s no better sight than seeing Old Trafford full and England playing.”
Flashback to 2006: Andrew Flintoff celebrates taking the wicket of Youvraj Singh (top left) and salutes the crowd after winning the Test between India and England at Mumbai (Photos by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)