KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
Founded in 1787, Marylebone Cricket Club is the most active and famous cricket club in the world and owner of Lord's Cricket Ground - the Home of Cricket.
© Copyright 2013
Retirement does not appear to be sitting entirely comfortably on the broad shoulders of Andrew ‘Fred’ Flintoff, as he looks across the Lord’s outfield.
His most recent visits to the Home of Cricket have been as a player - most memorably in 2009 when his spell of 5-92 inspired England to their first Ashes victory at Lord’s in over 70 years.
This visit to Lord’s is, sadly for England fans, slightly more low-key - but one Flintoff is grateful of nonetheless.
Flintoff is accepting his iconic MCC Members’ tie after an offer from the Club of Honorary Honorary Life Membership earlier this year.
Though the 33-year-old was thrilled to accept the offer, he admits coming to terms with his retirement is a struggle - particularly on days like this.
"It was strange coming to Lord’s today now I’ve retired." said the ex-Lancashire man.
"It’s my favourite ground and I’ve got some very fond memories but coming back and realising I’m not going to play here again is bizarre."
Flintoff has kept busy since his retirement in September 2010, including starring in his own TV show Freddie Flintoff v The World, but still craves the unique buzz cricket provides.
"It’s been hard finishing playing cricket but I’ve been keeping myself busy with TV work.
"I still really miss playing cricket and though I’ve got other options doing TV and other things, I’ll be honest, I’d swap it all to be playing again.
"But you’ve got to move on and I’m looking forward to coming to Lord’s and watching England in the future."
In the Pavilion
Flintoff joins the likes of former England teammates Darren Gough and Michael Vaughan as honorary Members of MCC.
The diverse nature of the Club's 18,000 strong Membership is reflected by the man who was offered Honorary Membership at the same time as Flintoff.
"It’s a big honour and I know Desmond Tutu’s got it at the same time and I’m not sure I’m worthy of that kind of company." Flintoff added.
"I’m really pleased. The Membership is definitely something I’ll use.
"Even though I’m not playing cricket any more I can see myself in the Pavilion and popping in to watch the Test match."
It does not take much to realise why Flintoff will never steam in from the Pavilion End again. At the time of his visit he is on crutches, the result of yet another operation.
The 2009 Ashes turned out to be his swansong as a cricketer as his attempts to regain fitness for limited overs cricket failed.
Flintoff admits now that playing in that series was fatally damaging to the longevity of a career which spanned 79 Tests and 141 One Day Internationals.
Despite the lasting consequences Flintoff - who made his highest ODI score at Lord’s against West Indies in 2004 - looks back fondly at his playing days at the Home of Cricket, and that 2009 Test in particular.
"2009 I’d had a bad knee and played in that Ashes series which delayed the operation a little bit and I’ve now had to have my leg straightened and bones taken out of my knee and hip and titanium plates put in there." he added.
"But you look back and you think it was probably worth it.
"I had some of my happiest times here at Lord’s. With the bat in One Day Internationals I had some good times here.
"To beat the Aussies in 2009 was probably the highlight because I don’t know how many years it was since we'd last done it.
"To do it in the fashion we did and to play a part in that was brilliant."
Flintoff's love for the game clearly remains undimmed. Shortly after this interview it was revealed he has signed for Lancashire village side Penwortham CC, near his home town Preston - where brother Chris plays.
Cricket fans everywhere will join Penwortham hoping 'Freddie' makes a full recovery from his latest operation.