AFP - Andrew Flintoff will retire from Test cricket at the end of the ongoing Ashes series against Australia, the injury-prone England all-rounder announced here on Wednesday.
The 31-year-old, who has so far played 75 Tests for his country since his debut in 1998, will though continue to make himself available for selection for One-Day Internationals and International Twenty20 fixtures, a statement issued by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said.
Flintoff was the star of England's 2005 Test series win over Australia as the team regained the Ashes for the first time in 18 years.
But injuries have blighted his career and he now has to overcome a knee problem, sustained in last week's drawn first Test against Australia, if he is to play in the second match of the current Ashes series starting at Lord's here on Thursday.
"My body has told me it's time to stop," Flintoff said in an ECB statement.
"Since 2005 I've had two years when I've done nothing but rehab from one injury or another.
"It's been something I've been thinking about for a while and I think this last problem I've had with my knee has confirmed to me that the time is now right."
Former England captain Michael Atherton praised Flintoff's contribution to his country's team but questioned the timing of his decision.
"It's curious timing because obviously if Flintoff didn't play in this game (the second Ashes Test) and England did well and won, what do they do? Do they go back to Flintoff with the end of the series approaching when he's not going to be playing beyond that? It's not yet certain he'll get a grand finale or farewell."
Even so, Atherton said Flintoff will feel "absolutely fulfilled" when he looks back on his career.
"He has been a very good Test match cricketer, not a great one but a very good one who had a great series in 2005. His career's not over because he'll want to play some more one-day international cricket. I suspect he'll feel absolutely fulfilled."
Another former skipper, Graham Gooch, said Flintoff's retirement from Test cricket would be a "big loss" but said the modern workload of Tests, one-day and Twenty20 cricket was a big burden.
"It is a big loss for English cricket, because he has a presence about him. He's not been the biggest influence on all the Test matches he's played. But he does have a presence, and that brings others along with him," Gooch told BBC Radio.
"He has the ability to be able to get big players out. Certainly that was shown at the height of his career when England won the Ashes in 2005."