Australia news February 24, 2015

Flintoff feels the Heat

ESPNcricinfo staff

Andrew Flintoff's next Elvis impression might be in the pub © Getty Images

Andrew Flintoff could be about to retire for a second time after Brisbane Heat conceded that his popularity as a commentator in the Big Bash League far outdid his effectiveness on the field.

Flintoff managed only 74 runs and three wickets during the tournament in which Heat finished bottom of the table and on at least one infamous occasion he pushed the boundaries between cricket and light entertainment to the limit.

That was when his most notable contribution was to provide an extended Elvis impression on the boundary while wearing a player mic during a Heat fixture against Hobart Hurricanes, his lengthy - and impressive - rendition momentarily interrupted when a six from Ben Hilfenhaus flew over his head.

Instead of providing another performance of "In the Ghetto", Flintoff could now be consigned to the ghetto for ex-cricketers if he decides also to step down from Lancashire's NatWest Blast side. Neither Lancashire nor Flintoff have provided definite indications about whether he will play this summer.

Whatever he decides, Flintoff's return to professional cricket five years after he bowed to a series of crippling injuries has been little short of miraculous.

He made an enthralling comeback in 2014, managing to bowl and bat effectively at times and almost stage-managing what would have been a remarkable comeback when Lancashire became losing finalists against Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston.

But he looked increasingly physically spent during the Big Bash, as he freely admitted on commentary, leading him to hint at the end of the tournament that his playing days might again be coming to an end.

There were claims even last year that Elvis was alive and well and, at 79, had made a comeback 36 years after his death. Flintoff is loath to follow the same route.

Andrew Blucher, Brisbane Heat's general manager, confirmed that, in Australia at least, the prospects of that are small as the franchise shifts the emphasis from promotional opportunities to the actual cricket.

"Andrew Flintoff was outstanding for us off the field from a media point of view - for fans, supporters and sponsors he was absolutely outstanding," Blucher told Cricket Australia's website.

"I think in terms of his on-field performance, by his own admission, he would say he was less than where he would like to be. We needed more from him on the field if I'm brutally honest.

"We loved him, the fans loved him but ultimately we do need more out of an overseas - one of those two highly valuable overseas recruits."

Flintoff was recruited by Stuart Law, Heat's coach and a former Lancashire team-mate, after he had ended a five-year retirement because of injury against all the odds. His commentary was popular with the Australian public - even though he has been a rare example in England of a former England captain who has not entered the commentary box - although it is not known if he could return next year.

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