Freddie Flintoff has revealed the real reason for his infamous night-time pedalo ride during the 2007 Cricket World Cup in St Lucia: he wanted to have a nightcap with Ian Botham.
The all-rounder explains that in his drunken state he believed Ian “Beefy” Botham was on a boat out to sea enjoying a late-night drink, and he wanted to go and join him.
Flintoff later had to be rescued from the water, and was subsequently stripped of the vice-captaincy. He says on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, tonight at 9pm on ITV, that he still regrets the incident, and recalls how he felt the next morning when England coach Duncan Fletcher found out.
“We’d played New Zealand on the Friday, the first game of the World Cup, and things hadn’t being going well,” Flintoff recalls. “We’d just come off the back of the Ashes, and I was so desperate to do well in this World Cup.
“I went out, I got a duck, out first ball actually … then I didn’t get a wicket, and then we got beat. I went back to the hotel room … I thought: ‘I’m not going out’ … but I was in my room, I was smashing the room up, I was gutted and then I thought: ‘I’m going to go out for a bit.’
“About 1:30am I thought: ‘I’m hammered here, go home.’ I had to walk partially across the beach. For some reason I had this idea these boats out to sea – it sounds bizarre – but I knew Ian Botham was on one and I thought: ‘I’m going to have a nightcap with Beefy.”
Former England cricketer Botham was working as a TV pundit at the time.
Flintoff continues: “I thought: ‘I can’t swim … that would be dangerous,’ so I was going to get a kayak.
“I couldn’t find the oars, so I dragged this pedalo into the water. The next morning I woke up, I was on my bed and … still wet and … sand between my toes.
“Then the door knocked. The door had these slats, and I thought it was the maid wanting to clean the room. So I said: ‘Can you come back?’
“But it was the coach. I pulled the slats down and answered the door, and then Duncan just said: ‘My room – now.’”
Fletcher banned Flintoff from the next England match and stripped him of the vice-captaincy. He also had to admit his misdemeanour in front of the press.
“It was a real low point,” Flintoff admits. “I had this press conference and walked across the hotel reception – and the England fans, who were only months previously cheering my name and high-fiving me … were shaking their heads. I couldn’t make eye contact with them and I thought: ‘This isn’t good.’”