ANDREW Flintoff looks set to make his return to action against Roses rivals Yorkshire next Friday after coming out of retirement to join the Lancashire Lightning’s squad for the NatWest T20 Blast.
The 36-year-old has been working on his fitness in training with Lancashire in recent months and is relishing the opportunity to get back into competitive cricket, having not done so for almost five years.
“I’m really honoured to be part of Lancashire once again,” he said on www.lccc.co.uk. “It is something that I never thought would happen but, after training with the squad over the last few months, I am really happy that they have invited me to play. I’ve worked really hard to get back to my fittest and I hope that we have a successful summer. I’m just glad that I can be part of it.”
LCCC cricket director Mike Watkinson was thrilled to welcome back the former England all-rounder, who will boost Glen Chapple’s men in their bid to reach finals day at Edgbaston in August. “We are delighted to have Fred involved once again at the club,” Watkinson said. “He is Lancashire through and through and his record for both club and country speaks for itself.
“Fred has been back at Emirates Old Trafford under his own steam since the winter and has been working with the academy and in the nets with some of the other players. Over a period of time he has picked up on his physical conditioning and this continues to improve. He has shown in practice that he still has plenty of class with bat and ball, and will be a great addition to the NatWest T20 Blast squad.”
There was speculation Flintoff might return for Lancashire 2nd XI against a representative team from the North Staffordshire and South Cheshire League at Leek on Tuesday. Instead, he appeared at Headingley to join training with the first-team squad before day three of their LV= County Championship match against Yorkshire.
In his years away from cricket, Flintoff has explored other options – including one bout of professional boxing.
He represented England in 79 Tests, 141 one-day internationals and seven Twenty20 games. Flintoff’s Lancashire Twenty20 record consists of 16 games, averaging 13.94 with the ball and 29.64 with the bat.
Flintoff is expected to feature for boyhood club St Annes today in preparation for his return to the Lightning line-up, his appearance likely to ramp up interest in the Northern League clash with Penrith at the Vernon Road ground.