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‘Became known as a fat cricketer’ – Flintoff reveals how bulimia affected his career

by Wisden Staff 2-minute read

Andrew Flintoff, the former England all-rounder, has spoken of his ongoing struggles with bulimia, saying the illness started during his playing days and affected him deeply.

Flintoff, who played 79 Tests and 141 ODIs for England between 1998 and 2009, revealed in 2014 that he had an eating disorder during his playing days. Now, in a BBC One documentary titled Freddie Flintoff: Living With Bulimia, Flintoff ponders whether he needs professional help.

Flintoff’s lifestyle choices were always a point of focus during his cricket career – he is now a TV presenter, and even indulged in professional boxing after his retirement from cricket – but that often crossed the line, with the former all-rounder now saying barbs about him being “known as a fat cricketer” triggered his troubles with bulimia.

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“I became known as a fat cricketer,” Flintoff says in the documentary. “That was horrible. That was when I started doing it. “That was when I started being sick after meals. Then things started happening for me as a player.”

Flintoff’s success during the iconic Ashes 2005 series, when he starred as England won the urn for the first time in 18 years, only bolstered his convictions. “Everyone was happy with me,” he said. “My weight was coming down. It was like: ‘I’m bossing this.’ It just carried on and I was doing it all the time.”

The 42-year-old believes the eating disorder contributed to the premature end of his playing career – he played his last Test in 2009, when he was just 31 – and also reiterated how the infamous pedalo incident of 2007 – he had to be rescued from the sea after a drinking session gone wrong at the 2007 World Cup – forced him to reassess his life.

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