Lancashire: Flintoff gives Selectors a nudge (22 Jun 1998)

22 June 1998

Flintoff gives Selectors a nudge

The Lancashire Evening Telegraph

DOES English cricket have the guts to give Andy Flintoff his Test debut at Old Trafford in a fortnight?

That was the question being asked by anyone lucky enough to see the Lancashire batting sensation's latest memorable innings yesterday.

On a day when the same old faces subsided to the same old miserable failure at Lord's, Flintoff was confirming what many at Old Trafford have suspected for a while: that he is the most exciting English cricketer since Ian Botham.

He blasted 61 from 24 balls, with seven fours and four sixes, including 34 in a single over from Alex Tudor which also included two no-balls and cost a total of 38, thought to be a new Championship record.

Adam Hollioake, the Surrey captain, said: "It was awesome. The game was pretty much 50-50 when he came in, but he single-handedly turned it on its head in the space of three overs. I've never seen anything like it before."

Wasim Akram, the Lancashire skipper, said earlier this season that if Flintoff was from Pakistan, he would already have played Test cricket.

And Peter Marron, the Old Trafford groundsman, put it better than anyone. "He empties the bars quicker than anyone here since Clive Lloyd. Why not give some of the young lads a go in the next Test? We've got nothing to lose."a

Flintoff's innings thrust Lancashire into the thick of the Championship race, just 20 points behind Surrey, who are still the leaders - but have played a game more.

He came in with Lancashire 152-2 in the 34th over, still needing a further 99 off just over 19 after an enterprising declaration from Hollioake.

He drove his first ball from Rupesh Amin, Surrey's young left arm spinner, for an effortless straight boundary. But the real carnage came in the 41st over from Tudor, his former England under-19 team mate.

Flintoff hit the first ball, a no-ball, for six. Then it went 4, 4, 4, - to complete a 20-ball half century - and four, off another no-ball. The next two deliveries were lofted over long on for six. And all this, remember, off the most highly rated young fast bowler in England, who had taken five wickets in the Lancashire first innings - including Flintoff caught behind for a duck.

"Freddie," as he is known by his team mates, failed to connect with the eighth and last delivery, so had to settle for 34 off the over, equalling the Lancashire record set by Frank Hayes off the bowling of Malcolm Nash at Swansea in 1977.

He finally holed out to deep mid-wicket, leaving Nathan Wood, who also made a crucial contribution with an unbeaten 80, to complete the win. "I think I was a bit over-shadowed," Wood laughed. "That was the best innings I have ever seen. Freddie was just incredible."

Hear, hear to that - and over to you, England.

Source :: Lancashire Evening Telegraph (