Flintoff comeback plans quicken
Andrew Flintoff's plans for a remarkable comeback nearly five years after his career seemed over because of injury are moving closer with his secret talks with Lancashire now reported by insiders at the county to be at an "advanced stage".
Flintoff's attempted return would give England's relaunched NatWest Blast tournament a dash of celebrity but both Lancashire and the player himself are determined he will only return if they both feel he can meet cricketing demands.
Flintoff is not only contemplating returning on the field for Lancashire, he has also been offered the opportunity to take on an as yet undefined coaching role during the tournament.
Prospects of him playing in the opening game against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge on Friday night or for Lancashire's first home game against Worcestershire Rapids at Old Trafford 24 hours later seem to have been scuppered by an ankle injury picked up in fielding practice.
Flintoff responded tartly on Twitter earlier this week to Notts' suggestions that he might play at Trent Bridge and suggested they should use the quality of their own players to sell tickets.
The injury has also so far prevented him turning out in one of several Lancashire's 2nd XI T20 fixtures this week - the latest of which is scheduled for Ormskirk today - and he will have to play in at least one such game to confirm that his fitness is robust enough for 1st team cricket.
Flintoff's big-hitting capability is ideally designed for T20 cricket and his enthusiasm for one last heave has been apparent in net sessions. If he does take the field, it would be a huge surprise if he also had a stint with the ball.
But both Lancashire and the player are keenly aware of the risks he would take with such a comeback and are determined that it will not be regarded as a charade.
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo