Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff revealed a ‘behind-the-scenes’ incident with Muttiah Muralitharan back in their hay days which left England skipper Nasser Hussain fuming. It was rather playful but Hussain certainly didn’t share their point of view on it.
Muralitharan is a legend of the game who is respected by teammates and opponents alike. While on the field, his competitive nature takes over but he remains a friendly figure who is easy to approach. On the other hand, Flintoff had plenty of bouts with players on the field. He was aggressive in his gameplay and never refrained from getting into a conversation – Yuvraj Singh‘s famous altercation in the 2007 T20 World Cup comes to mind.
However, when it came to the Sri Lankan legend, Flintoff was a different person, shown by an incident that took place between the two. Having played for Lancashire at Old Trafford together, Flintoff and Murali were well acquainted with each other. So when England toured Sri Lanka in 2003, the duo exchanged a few words which were revealed by Flintoff in his autobiography.
“I wasn’t bowling too much short stuff at Murali and he wasn’t bowling too many doosras at me. Which was a bit naughty, I can see that. During dinner a night before the match, Murali said, ‘Fred, I haven’t got any bats left. Can I borrow one of yours?’ It was a bit tricky because Nasser Hussein had put a ban on us even talking to Murali. We were supposed to be freezing him out,” he revealed.
“Fucking good bat, Freddie!” – Muttiah Muralitharan to Andrew Flintoff
To go around Hussain’s previously stated orders, Flintoff asked Murali to go into the English dressing room when the team was out in the field and take one of his bats. Murali did so before walking out to bat. Hussain then brought in Flintoff and asked him to chuck a few bouncers at the Lankan legend. Instead, the all-rounder said he’ll get him out with yorkers instead.
So Flintoff did the same but Murali dealt with his deliveries quite easily. This agitated the English captain who immediately took Flintoff out of the attack. Murali soon proceeded to smack the England bowlers all around the park before Hussain saw the initials of Flintoff on the bat Murali was playing with. This triggered Hussain who was left boiling with rage. Murali cheekily walked up in excitement to Freddie and said: “Fucking good bat, Freddie!”
The Lankans went on to win the match and subsequently the series. To no one’s surprise, Muralitharan ended as the Player of the Series.