County news June 2, 2014

Flintoff return a 'challenge' for Lancashire - Moores

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Freddie Flintoff takes stunning catch off own bowling

Peter Moores, the new England coach, has given a lukewarm response to the idea of Andrew Flintoff coming out of retirement to represent Lancashire in T20 cricket.

Moores, who was the Lancashire coach until April, accepted that Flintoff, at his best, would be an asset to any side but warned that his return could present a challenge to the club management and risks destabilising a side that has started well in this year's NatWest T20 Blast. Lancashire are currently top of the North Division, with four wins in their first five games.

While interest in Flintoff's return has led to a flurry of ticket sales ahead of Lancashire T20 Roses clash against Yorkshire at Old Trafford, Moores warned that his selection should only be made for "cricketing reasons" and not simply as a marketing tool. He also suggested that it could be a distraction for the rest of the team.

"It's a sensitive issue with the players that are there," Moores said. "They are playing really good cricket at the moment, so definitely you'd think it would be a tough side to get into.

"A fit, strong, playing-well Andrew Flintoff is going to add to any side. But he is coming back from retirement, so they have got to make the assessment of where he is, against what they have in their current staff.

"To know that, you'd have to be on the inside. You have to be watching people practise and play and decide that it's not too much of a distraction and if it's going to work. It's got to be a cricketing decision.

"It's a challenge and it has to be handled well. But you have to pick the best side to play for Lancashire. That's what the supporters are going to watch, and that's the most important thing."

Glen Chapple, who stepped up to take responsibility for Lancashire's first team after the departure of Moores, also offered a note of caution, despite the momentum building behind a Flintoff return against Yorkshire. "It would not be an easy game to come back in," Chapple said, after the second day of Lancashire's Championship match against Somerset.

"In terms of him playing, we will just have to see how things go," he said. "The team will be picked on merit. When and if he plays, it will be very exciting for everybody who comes to watch.

"They have all been tough teams to pick. We are leaving out good players all the time, which is difficult to do. We have won the last four games and the squad will understand that. All we can do is pick the team we feel is the right one.

"The players who are in possession have done a fantastic job, especially our bowlers. We won't be taking any liberties with their positions. They are doing really well. The way 'Fred' plays his cricket, you can see him being beneficial for any time. Let's wait and see what Friday morning brings."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo