Lancashire v Nottinghamshire, Old Trafford, July 9, 2006 July 9, 2006

Flintoff returns with a bang

Cricinfo staff

Lancashire 93 for 3 (Law 62*) beat Nottinghamshire 91 (Clough 30, Cork 4-16, Flintoff 3-4) by 7 wickets

Flintoff showed no signs of the ankle injury which kept him out of England's one-dayers against Sri Lanka © Getty Images

Andrew Flintoff made a lively and successful return to competitive cricket following his ankle injury, with three wickets in a brilliant spell of bowling to help Lancashire beat Nottinghamshire by seven wickets.

Flintoff was cleared by the England management to play in two Twenty20 matches for Lancashire, and a Championship game on July 18 in order to regain match fitness ahead of the second Test against Pakistan at Old Trafford on July 27. And here today, at Old Trafford, he looked back to his fearsome best showing no signs of the ankle injury which kept him out of England's one-day series against Sri Lanka.

The greasy pitch at Manchester was tailor-made for Flintoff who, like a bulldog released from his kennel, roared into Leicestershire's top-order who had no answer to his pace and bounce. Graeme Swann, opening the innings, feathered one which climbed disconcertingly towards his neck; Paul Franks fished without moving his feet and David Alleyne, stuck in his crease to counter the pace, trod on his stumps to give Flintoff figures of 3 for 4 from his three overs.

Not to be outdone, Dominic Cork took the Man-of-the-Match award with a similarly excellent spell. Bowling into a stiff wind, he picked up 4 for 16. At one stage, Nottinghamshire were in the perilous position of 14 for 5 until David Hussey (30) and Gareth Clough rescued their innings somewhat to haul their side up to 91.

It was never a total Lancashire could fear, though, and thanks to a powerful unbeaten 62 from Stuart Law, they were home by seven wickets with overs to spare.