Steve Harmison, the former England pacer, has said the team that was swept 5-0 against Australia in the 2006/07 Ashes wasn’t “very good” and Andrew Flintoff “took a bullet for English cricket” in captaining that side.
Harmison, in the Wisden Cricket Weekly podcast, was speaking about Ben Stokes’ captaincy credentials when the conversation turned to the time Flintoff, his predecessor, led the side. It wasn’t a particularly successful captaincy stint, the low point being the whitewash England suffered in the Ashes in 2006/07.
However, Harmison said that wasn’t down to Flintoff’s captain, rather the team as a whole. “Ben Stokes is right to be talked about [as captain], right that he captains in this one game [in the upcoming series against West Indies]. But longevity – no, I don’t think over a long period of time, I don’t think that works.
“It didn’t with Andrew Flintoff, but it wasn’t because he wasn’t tactically aware, it wasn’t because the job was too much for him, it wasn’t because he was the all-rounder. We got beat five-nil because we weren’t very good. We didn’t have a very good team.
“As a unit, going over [to Australia], bear in mind we lost [Marcus] Trescothick, we lost [Simon] Jones, we lost [Michael] Vaughan, Ashley Giles was struggling because of what was happening personally – he was a big player for us both on and off the field, he was like a big brother to all of us. We were a generation, and Ash was sort of a little bit older to hold us all together.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with… if anything, Flintoff took a bullet for English cricket. Giles [if he was captain] wouldn’t have done anything different, we still would have lost against that side. They [Australia] were gunning for us, they were ready for us. And when you look in the cold light of day, I don’t think it had anything to do with the first ball going where it went, or the captain being Andrew Flintoff and not Andrew Strauss.
“They were better than what we were. And we were nowhere near good enough.”