Carlton Mid ODI Tri-Series 2014-15 January 17, 2015

Flintoff to join England net session

Andrew Flintoff's season with Brisbane Heat was not a roaring success © Getty Images

Cricket, commentating and now, perhaps, a spot of coaching. Andrew Flintoff has certainly fulfilled a few job descriptions during his spell in Australia and the latest role has come after an invitation to join England's training session in Brisbane, on Sunday, as they prepare for their second tri-series match against India.

There has been no specific role given to Flintoff - who joked during his Big Bash commentary stint on Saturday that "Think they want me to bowl them into form" - but it would make sense if he was utilised to work with the bowlers on their late-innings skills, particularly the increasingly unfancied yorker which was one of Flintoff's strengths during his 141-match ODI career

Flintoff claimed 169 wickets for England in the 50-over format and developed into a high-quality death bowler alongside Darren Gough as the finest England have had in the more modern era of one-day cricket.

In the aftermath of his retirement from Test cricket - and subsequently other formats - in 2009, Flintoff did not linger around the game and instead moved into various TV projects, but early last year, he began his quest to make a T20 comeback with Lancashire, having reinvigorated himself while working with the county's youth teams, before securing his current BBL deal with Brisbane Heat.

The momentum behind Flintoff's playing return began while Peter Moores, now the England coach, was in charge at Lancashire and there remains a strong link between the pair. Flintoff played all three formats for England during Moores' first spell with England from 2007 to late 2008.

The bowling attack of the current England side is a major area of concern, despite the top order slumping to 4 for 33 and then 5 for 69 against Australia in Sydney, and Moores could well believe that Flintoff can pass on some valuable lessons.

Australia chased down their target inside 40 overs to achieve a bonus point while England, who were missing James Anderson as a cautious approach was taken with his knee, struggled for control for long periods of the innings. Steven Finn conceded a run a ball, and Stuart Broad, in his first international since August following an injury lay-off, was taken for more than seven.

An honourable exception was Chris Woakes who claimed 4 for 40 to continue the form he showed in Sri Lanka where he was the pick of England's pace bowlers. The pace of Australia's chase in Sydney meant the death overs were not required, but Woakes is also one of the men entrusted with that high-pressure role which used to belong to the likes of Flintoff and Gough.

"It's hard to say you enjoy it all the time because there's as much opportunity to go out of the park as there is to take wickets," he admitted. "There is a skill to it. Batters develop shots and can hit all round the park - we even saw David Warner swap hands last night - and bowlers can be behind the pace at times even though we've got better at it.

"You just have to try to keep the batsman guessing, not become too predictable, and also execute your skills. If you do that it's harder for the batsmen to execute his. It's not easy but it's an opportunity to take wickets."

Woakes has now had a run of 11 ODIs since the end of the last English season, which has seen him elevated to the bowler given the first over of the innings, and he is now starting to feel settled in the international arena.

"Sri Lanka was good for me and with Jimmy and Broady not being around it gave guys who have not played as much opportunity to stake a claim," Woakes said. "I felt like I did that there and I'm trying to continue it here. It is nice to know that I've performed at international level now. I've been in and out and haven't known if I was going to play or not. It does help if you know you've got a good chance of playing. It's a confidence booster."

Earlier in his England career, there were concerns as to whether Woakes had the pace to trouble top-level batsmen, but he has worked tirelessly over the last 12 months to enhance that side of the game and now he is often seen hurrying batsman and generating the elusive 'nip' so often talked about.

"It was a gradual process. I've been working on it for a couple of years now, starting with Graeme Welch at Warwickshire and Kevin Shine at Loughborough during the Lions period. There were a few technical issues and I also feel now I'm more energetic in my run up. So there has been hard work and it hasn't just happened overnight. It's good to see the rewards."

And the death bowling is developing, too. Should be find himself in conversation with Flintoff about the role, he will be able to remind him that he was the bowler who prevented Flintoff hauling Lancashire across the line in the final of NatWest T20 Blast last year.

Andrew McGlashan is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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