Flintoff happy to be back playing cricket

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/f/flintoffnew.jpg' class='caption'> Andrew Flintoff says he's enjoying playing cricket again with England - without the burden of captaincy.

Updated: September 09, 2008 06:53 IST
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Andrew Flintoff says he's enjoying playing cricket again with England - without the burden of captaincy.

The 30-year-old allrounder is excelling under new captain Kevin Pietersen after having battled several long-term injuries.

"I think I've found my perfect role within the side," Flintofff said on the England and Wales Cricket Board's Web site Friday.

"I've had a go at captaincy and I think now in my own way I can lead. Kevin is obviously the captain and he's in charge, but I can help by passing on some of the things I've learnt to the younger lads, especially the bowlers and I can be there for Kevin to give advice if he needs it.

"I care a lot about playing cricket and I care a lot about playing for England. I've not always gone about it the right way every time, but my desire to do well has always been there."

Flintoff captained England to a 5-0 series defeat in Australia in 2006-07, and he was then fired as England's one-day captain at last year's World Cup after drunkenly falling off a pedalo in St. Lucia.

Yet he shrugged off injuries to end a yearlong exile from the England team when he returned for the second test with South Africa at Headingly in July. Although England lost - and went on to lose the series 2-1 - Flintoff vowed he would enjoy his cricket.

"Possibly, for a period, I lost that enjoyment," he said. "I'm in a privileged position because I'm playing cricket for England, but I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. There were a lot of different circumstances which dictated I wasn't enjoying my cricket as much as I should have done.

"There was what happened in the World Cup and when you're not playing well or injured it's very tough. I'm now coming back after my fourth operation, so all this is almost like a bonus. I don't know how long I'll play for, but I'm determined to enjoy it while it lasts."

Flintoff was England's leading run scorer during the 4-0 one-day series win over South Africa and his performances with the ball took him back to the top-10 bowlers in the ICC's world ODI rankings.

"I think I'm a better cricketer for those dark times and a better person," he said. "When you experience tough times, the better times are that much sweeter. I was sitting on the balcony at Lord's the other day after we'd won and one of the lads asked if I'd enjoyed it.

"I'd been through a whole host of things, just to be sitting there with a man-of-the-match award and playing for a side that's 4-0 up in a series against South Africa, so I just couldn't stop smiling."

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