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Jon Culley at Edgbaston
July 4, 2014
Glen Chapple, the Lancashire club captain and assistant coach, said there was "a strong chance" that Andrew Flintoff would have made his return to competitive cricket had the county's NatWest T20 Blast match against Warwickshire in Birmingham not been abandoned without a ball bowled because of rain.
Lancashire never named their side - at least not officially.
The 36-year-old former England all-rounder, who has not played any cricket other than club, charity and Second XI matches since his final Test against Australia at The Oval in 2009, was named in Lancashire's squad for the first time. His previous inclusion in the squad had been as a stand-by player only.
"Picking him at any time will be a difficult decision because the team has been in good form and the players have been doing their jobs really well," Chapple said. "But we know that Fred playing well is an exceptional cricketer and even though he has been out of the game for a while the potential is still there. He had a strong chance of playing tonight."
He remains in the squad for Lancashire's next T20 match against Worcestershire at New Road on Sunday afternoon, although Chapple said that his closeness to selection for this game did not necessarily mean he would play against the North Group leaders.
"In terms of being ready to play, he has done all his can within the opportunities he has had and has been in decent form," Chapple said.
"But where and when he plays maybe comes down to a tactical change depending on conditions. There will not be any chances taken with our team selection so it would be more a matter of what the pitch is like, or whereabouts on the square it is in relation to the boundaries, which might affect the balance of the side you pick, so we'll have to wait and see."
Sunday's match is between first and second in the North Division of the qualifying groups, with Lancashire level on points with Worcestershire, who lead the section on net run rate. A win for Lancashire would give them one foot in the quarter-finals, so they are unlikely to take any risks to include Flintoff.
But Chapple said that Flintoff, who has maintained a good level of fitness since he went into training so that he could box almost two years ago, is "itching to play" at some stage in the competition.
"He has put a lot of things to one side to work on his fitness and has spent a lot of time around the lads," Chapple said. "He is not in for training sessions, he is in to play competitively."
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