Lancashire signal it's over for Flintoff
Ashley Giles's disclosure at a Lancashire members forum that Andrew Flintoff is unlikely to play any cricket for Lancashire this season should surprise no one.
The demands made on current players, even T20 specialists, are not easy to balance with a host of media appearances and the player himself said at the end of the Big Bash that he was struggling to square his many other commitments with the regimen of a professional sportsman.
Even at Lancashire, the county represented with such distinction by that mighty trencherman Jack Simmons, chip-van tours and cricket no longer mix.
Old Trafford coach Giles was already finding it difficult to contact Flintoff and had opted to send him texts, facts which scarcely suggest a very close relationship between the pair.
Moreover, the player himself had been forthright in his criticism of his county during a winter in which a number of loyal servants, including Academy Director John Stanworth, had been made redundant. That might also have made a return to the staff pretty difficult.
This summer Flintoff has a stand-up tour arranged in addition to his TV commitments and whatever other bookings and his representatives accept.
Lancashire supporters will therefore have to content themselves with their memories of his three appearances in the 2014 NatWest T20 Blast, the last of which took place in the final at Edgbaston when his eight-ball 20 not out just failed to secure the trophy for his team.
From there, there was a Big Bash season where Flintoff was a popular figure at Brisbane Heat but he made more of an impact as a commentator than a player and he conceded when it was all over that the end of the road was nigh.
It is surely pretty unlikely that any other county will offer Flintoff a T20 contract, although the temptation to ask Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie whether he has considered the possibility may be too delicious to resist.