Andrew Flintoff calls for cricket pundits to lay off England outcast Alex Hales

first_imgShare on Pinterest Share via Email Share on WhatsApp Share on LinkedIn Since you’re here… … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Support The Guardian Topics Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Andrew Flintoff Andrew Flintoff has criticised those who have rushed to condemn Alex Hales since he was dropped by England after testing positive for recreational drugs. Flintoff said those without close knowledge of the 30-year-old’s personal situation should be wary of wading into a potentially complex issue.“Everyone is quick to judge him and quick to have their opinions but I don’t know the lad’s personal position,” the former England captain said. “Rather than a cricketer, we’re talking about a lad here. I think that’s got to be addressed – where he is as a person as opposed to where he is as a cricketer.“Once you’ve done that you can make decisions about whether he’s going to play, and when. But there are so many people, players and ex-players, just jumping to conclusions. I’m not going to do that, because I don’t know the circumstances.” Boozy cricket nights are putting off kids – and this gives the ECB a problem Share on Messenger Read more news The 41-year-old, whose pedalo-borrowing antics disrupted England’s 2007 World Cup campaign, also dismissed concerns that the England team might have been distracted by any controversy surrounding Hales during this year’s tournament, which starts on 30 May. Ashley Giles, the managing director of England men’s cricket at the ECB, said the decision to drop the batsman was based on a desire “to ensure the team are free from any distractions and able to focus on being successful on the pitch”.“Whenever England play sport there is noise around it,” Flintoff insisted. “I never understood it. You’re there to play cricket. You practise hard, you work hard, you get on with it. Your job doesn’t change because someone else is in the dressing room unless it’s an obvious distraction. Especially some of the misdemeanours I got up to – I couldn’t wait to get back on the field. That was my safe place, a cricket field. There’s where I knew I wanted to be, where everything else can look after itself.”Flintoff expects Jofra Archer to claim a place in England’s final World Cup squad, having been impressed by the bowler’s first two appearances in the Twenty20 against Pakistan and an ODI against Ireland last week.“I think he’s brilliant,” he said. “Watching the lad bowl, with so much control, all the tricks – slower balls, bouncers, yorkers – he’s got to be in. Real pace is a massive asset, especially in the middle overs in one-day cricket. It’s good to have that option in your side, a man who can come in and take a wicket when you need it.”England have never won the World Cup but are No 1 in the ICC rankings and considered favourites to win the title on home soil. “I think England have the best team but the biggest challenge – and it always has been over a number of years – is when we’re underdogs we’re very good, and then when we’re favourites we bottle it,” said Flintoff, who is an ambassador for the tournament.“This time we’re expected to win, and I think dealing with that pressure is going to be the hardest thing. But every challenge for this one-day side so far they seem to take it head on. There are other sides who can win it but I would not bet against England.” Cricket Reuse this contentlast_img read more