County news May 4, 2014

A Flintoff comeback? Surely not


Lancashire have sought to calm speculation that Andrew Flintoff will make an extraordinary comeback for the county in the NatWest T20 Blast this summer but they have not entirely ruled out the possibility that, at 36, he will be seen playing competitive cricket for the first time in nearly five years.

On the day when Old Trafford hosted early X-Factor auditions, cynical observers may conclude that the merest hint of Flintoff's return would do no harm to Lancashire's marketing plans as England's Twenty20 completion is relaunched as predominantly a Friday evening tournament over much of this summer.

Yet it was really was Flintoff, the former England all-rounder, batting and bowling in Old Trafford's outdoor nets on Sunday afternoon perhaps - just perhaps - suggesting that the rumour of a possible return was more than merely an advertising ploy.

It is almost impossible to believe that Flintoff would be anything like ready to play in Lancashire's early T20 matches - the county's programme begins a week on Friday - and it is surely much more likely that he will turn out for his old club St Annes in their 20-over matches and see how he feels then. Very tired, probably.

He sent a message to St Annes through his grandfather in April that he might fancy a hit in Twenty20 and the club registered him just in case.

Paul Allott, the former England bowler and Sky TV commentator, who is a member of Lancashire's seven-man board, was careful to downplay the prospect of Flintoff playing for Lancashire again after a story that the county wanted him to do so appeared in a Sunday newspaper.

"Andrew has been mentoring the Academy players and he has been helping Kyle Hogg," said Allott. "We haven't asked him to come back and he hasn't come to us saying that he wants to play. He has been more than useful helping the other lads.

"He has been voluntarily around the group and we are more than pleased to have him around. Whether it comes to anything more than that, who knows?"

It was the "who knows?" that left just a glimmer of hope for Flintoff fans.

Flintoff has not played competitive cricket since the Oval Test against Australia in 2009, when he famously bade farewell to international cricket by running out Ricky Ponting and has forged a TV career as a worldwide explorer and adventurer.

Soon after that his final game he had surgery on his left knee and he also needed shoulder reconstruction after winning a heavyweight boxing match in December 2012.

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  • Soy on May 6, 2014, 23:05 GMT

    @JG2704 - Aus fans never shy away mate, but as in my original post it would be a foreign concept for the English fan to imagine the retirement of so many greats all so close together (as you have produced about 2 [KP & Botham] in the last 30+ years).

    So I get that you don't understand. It's not your fault, you just haven't been spoilt by the existence of tremendous cricketers (especially so many in such short time), and thus when you were in possession of such (in KP) you lot didn't know what to do with him.

    I actually believe cricket has come a long way since the 80's and 90's and thus these decade-long+ eras of dominance are a thing of the past. It's tougher at the top and also each of the top 4-5 test playing nations have better systems in place.

    That said - the County circuit is very weak again due to the incentives to use youth.

    But the era when we (Aus) lose frequently is over, we've rebuilt resources now, have better systems and a host of youth on the up-and-coming trail.

  • John on May 6, 2014, 10:22 GMT

    Why not?

    Flintoff is a huge star over here. He sold out the 20000 MEN arena for a meaningless boxing match so it'll certainly help put bums on seats. He is an impact player so may even be able to do something at this level. No one's kidding anyone in thinking that he can do anything at a level above but regardless of anything else it will help create revenue for Lancs and interest in the competition. I'd have thought Lancs fans would be salivating at the prospect of seeing him and Jos in the same team

  • John on May 6, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    @SoyQueans - You're right. Order is totally restored , Australia are brilliant and when they're not it's because they are in transition/rebuilding ... blah blah blah. And we all know which fans will be first to go into hiding if this era orf dominance doesn't last so long...

  • Soy on May 6, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    #1 in Tests and ODI's - and yet @Jaffa79 implies we are living in the moment of our short-term successes.

    Face it, the tide has turned, and it will stay that way for years to come.

    I love how you try to lecture an Aus fan about long-term successes. How does 1989-2008 sound to you? One Ashes loss in there and utter dominance throughout.

    16 straight Test wins in a row twice within a decade.

    England will never achieve that as they are too defensive and mild in their tactics and disposition.

    But yeah, come back to these forums and lambast Australian fans for being gleeful about victory in the short when you can claim a nigh-on 2 decade utter dominance of the game in both formats and 2 x lots of 16 test wins in a row within a decade, and within the last 15 years or so.

    Absolutely hilarious. It's like you haven't checked the latest news.

    One word for you: Netherlands.

  • Soy on May 5, 2014, 23:26 GMT

    @Jaffa79 - and just finally - once again, hilarious that you hung your team of last year out to dry, implying they were weak. They weren't, they are just as good as any XI you've put out in the last 15 years.

    They are just weak. Now that Australia has gotten through our restructuring/redevelopment phase we'll be fine.

    Now it is a foreign concept to you as the English (at least anyone who didn't see Botham play), because the only true 'great' of the game you've produced in the last 20+ years is KP, and look how you hung him out to dry (too much charisma for your 'paint-dryingly-boring' ways) but try imagining the retirement of S Waugh, S Warne, G McGrath, D Martyn, J Langer, D Lehmann, A Symonds, M Hayden, A Gilchrist, S MacGill, J Gillespie, M Slater, R Ponting, M Hussey in a few short years.

    You haven't produced players like that for more than 4 decades (KP & Botham aside) so I can understand how you can be ignorant to why Aus fell in a bit of a heap for a couple of years.

  • Randolph on May 5, 2014, 22:21 GMT

    haha, the County system is so poor that even a very old flintoff can still make a starting XI

  • Anupam on May 5, 2014, 15:33 GMT

    Sound good but not factual. Fans Flintoff career is over now, No doubt he is a great all-rounder. Kallis still playing and more fit than others but his career is 99 % over. vettori the fit amonst all is also faded. Sehwag the young amonst all and he is playing continueos domestic games has still 40% chance to come back. But Freddie exiting but not real NOW.

  • Nicholas on May 5, 2014, 15:10 GMT

    @ dunger.bob (post on May 5, 2014, 12:50 GMT): Totally agree. Can't see any way back for Freddy, and (thankfully) Lancashire have played down the rumours. 2005 was Flintoff's moment, and everyone including himself should leave it there.

  • rob on May 5, 2014, 12:50 GMT

    "And there's Flintoff, hands raised to the heavens, standing in the middle of the pitch like a colossus" - Jim Maxwell, ABC Radio. I'm an Aussie, but that still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up because that was Flintoff in the 2005 Ashes where he bowled like the wind and played like a god. .. Legendary stuff but let's leave it that way. A comeback now will somehow dilute that because it just can't work. I'm thinking Michael Jordan. In the end it was just sad and he deserved better, as does Freddy.

  • Prashanth on May 5, 2014, 11:18 GMT

    @RodStark- T20 cricket isn't a slap-bang cricket anymore. You need to see the game more to realize how much it has changed. Anybody who wants to keep hitting will be skittled out. These English folks and their lack of T20 viewing makes them still see what T20 had been at its infancy.

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