Sourav Ganguly would vouch, Andrew Flintoff often struggled to keep his shirt on.
This time, Freddie sheds flannel to retain pyjama. Test Cricket, on its part, can surely find a lonely, dingy corner and shed a tear or two to mourn the exit of the Last of its Mohicans.
I’m afraid we won’t see his like again. The era of 24-carat all-rounders is just behind us. Welcome to a new world where imposters in the all-rounder’s garb would fool around.
ICC rankings would want us believe Mitchell Johnson is world’s number two all-rounder and Chaminda Vaas ranks fifth. But then ICC’s understanding of the game rivals Paris Hilton’s grasp of rocket science and both come with the unmistakable ‘Not To Be Taken Seriously’ tag.
In his approach, Flintoff was a throwback to an era where the popular notion was that an all-rounder should be good enough to merit two places in the side, one for bowling and another for batting.
Now, take Garfield Sobers out of the action. He could bowl pace and spin, at times both in the same over, keep wicket and then hit a poor Malcolm Nash for six sixes in an over. He could be Clark Kent’s estranged sibling endowed with equal supernatural ability and a markedly better sartorial taste.
Soon after the Kapil-Imran-Botham-Hadlee quartet left the scene, batting pie-chuckers and bowling sloggers thronged the dais and statistics – often confounding than enlightening – were thrown up at regular intervals to prove their all-round credentials.
You don’t have to strain your eyes to see the clowns fooling around. Underneath the garb, Shane Watsons and Yusuf Pathans are essentially bits-and-pieces players of some utility but anything but all-rounders.
Unlike them, Flintoff, in between his injury rehabs, sent down real 90mph thunderbolts from an awkward angle and then returned to wield the willow with impunity.
More importantly, he was match-winner with both.
His foibles only endeared him and make no mistake, it’s people like him who ensured bums on seats.
Above all, Flintoff was the rare flicker of flair in an otherwise mass of mediocrity that is English cricket.
I insist, Test cricket is all about romanticism and if you don’t like, you are free to frequent the nearby Twenty20 circus.
MCC diagnoses Test cricket is dying and their optimism simply baffles me. They might declare Michael Jackson alive!