Flintoff upset, embarrassed by drunken antics

Andrew Flintoff is ”upset and embarrassed” at being stripped of the England vice-captaincy for his drunken antics at the World Cup.

Flintoff fronted a news conference on Monday at the team’s hotel, admitting he was ashamed of himself.

He was suspended for England’s 51-run win over Canada on Sunday and told by team management that he would not be elevated to the captaincy at the World Cup, even if injury-plagued skipper Michael Vaughan is sidelined.

Flintoff went out drinking until the early hours after Friday’s loss to New Zealand and, according to British media, had to be rescued from the ocean at 4am after capsizing a small pedal boat.

”I had a few drinks on Friday. There has been maybe a bit of poetic licence [regarding the ocean rescue] but I’m not denying it happened,” he said. ”It is something which I don’t want to go into in too great a detail [on], but it’s something I am not very pleased about.

”I’m embarrassed and ashamed by it.”

The 29-year-old all-rounder led England for most of the southern summer when Vaughan was sidelined. England surrendered the Ashes Test series 5-0, but recovered to win the limited-overs tri-series against Australia and New Zealand.

Five other players were fined on Saturday for being out late following the loss to New Zealand.

England coach Duncan Fletcher identified them as fast bowlers James Anderson, Liam Plunkett and John Lewis, wicketkeeper Paul Nixon and batsman Ian Bell.

Fletcher said Flintoff was dealt with more harshly because of his track record.

”Andrew Flintoff has been given warnings about his conduct and disciplined for previous incidents of this nature,” Fletcher said.

”In light of this and due to the serious nature of the incident, we have decided to take further disciplinary action against him.”

The News of the World reported the Flintoff story on Sunday under the headline ”Flintoff’s shipfaced.”

The report said England supporters saw the players out late and contacted newspapers.

Being ordered to remain at the hotel when the team travelled for the Canada match added to the humiliation, Flintoff said.

”I have suffered the consequences,” he said. ”The feeling of being left out for those reasons is something I am upset about and something I never want to repeat.

”I have missed games through injury but to miss it through this … It was a horrible feeling — something I cannot describe in words.”

Flintoff, one of the biggest stars of the upset Ashes win over Australia in England in 2005, said his future prospects of leading England were far from his mind at the moment.

”I have apologised and I want to redeem myself and pay back the faith people have shown me in the last few years and the only way I can do that is to go out there and perform with bat and ball,” he said.

”Probably for me the stakes have gone up a bit more. I desperately want to perform. I feel I have something I have to give back to the team.”

England must win their remaining Group C match against Kenya to advance to the second round of the World Cup, something it has not done since 1996. — Sapa-AP

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