London:The injuries that hastened Andrew Flintoff's retirement from Test cricket were so painful that he often needed his wife to put on his socks and shoes for him.
Flintoff stepped down from Test cricket after helping England regain the Ashes in August and is still on crutches following subsequent surgery on his right knee.
The 31-year-old allrounder is confident of returning to England's limited-overs side when he regains full fitness and hopes his pared down workload helps him avoid the sort of debilitating conditions that meant his wife, Rachel, had to help dress him.
"That happened quite a few times," Flintoff said in an interview in Tuesday's edition of The Guardian newspaper. "And that's why I think differently when people look at my test career and say, if not for injury, I could have done X, Y or Z.
"For me, a big achievement was just actually getting out on a cricket field."
That view contradicts that of many fans and commentators, who lament the lack of momentum in his career. Back, ankle and knee problems all restricted his impact, and he made it into the lineup for 79 of England's 143 tests over 11 years.
But Flintoff said he is lucky to have played as often as he did.
"I don't think, 'I missed this amount of Test cricket for England,'" Flintoff said. "I just look back and I'm thankful I played that many tests. I've had six operations in 4 1/2 years and 2 1/2 of those years were in rehab.
"I've been injured since I was 13. I had back problems all the way through. Even when I made my Test debut, I was in pain. So it's some achievement."
Flintoff is no longer in pain from the reconstructive surgery on his knee but needs another month of rest before he can discard his crutches.
He will stay in Dubai to recuperate and train after that, with the intention of then playing for Lancashire, an Indian Premier League side and in Australian domestic cricket.
"The surgeon says the chances of me coming back are high," Flintoff said. "Obviously there is always the odd case where it doesn't work but I did my own research.
"You Google the operation and get all these examples. A lot of basketball players have had it and they're much bigger and heavier and they jump higher than me. And they've made full recoveries. So I'm confident."