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May 30, 2014
Andrew Flintoff, the former England allrounder and captain, has come out of retirement to play for Lancashire in the Natwest T20 Blast, the county has confirmed.
Flintoff had signed off his England career following their Ashes win in 2009 and it was also his last domestic season, though he officially announced his retirement from all forms of the game only the following year.
Flintoff, 36, had recently been training with his native county but an ankle injury had scuppered his plans of making a return earlier this month. No exact date has been put on Flintoff's first-team return although the Roses match against Yorkshire on June 6 is shaping as a possible comeback. He is likely to appear for his first club, St Annes, on Saturday.
"I'm really honoured to be part of Lancashire once again," Flintoff told the county's official website. "It is something that I never thought would happen but after training with the squad over the last few months I am really happy that they have invited me to play. I have worked really hard to get back to my fittest and I hope that we have a successful summer. I'm just glad that I can be part of it."
Lancashire cricket director Mike Watkinson said the club was happy to welcome him back. "We are delighted to have Fred involved once again at the club. He is Lancashire through and through and his record for both club and country speaks for itself," Watkinson said.
"Fred has been back at Old Trafford under his own steam since the winter and has been working with the Academy and in the nets with some of the other players. Over a period of time he has picked up on his physical conditioning and this continues to improve. He has shown in practice that he still has plenty of class with bat and ball, and will be a great addition to the NatWest T20 Blast squad."
Flintoff said he had hopes of playing alongside Sachin Tendulkar for Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) against a Shane Warne-led Rest of the World in an exhibition match to celebrate the bicentenary of Lord's on July 5. When he was not picked, Flintoff started looking at other ways of making a comeback.
"John Stephenson from the MCC phoned me up and I thought the call was to tell me where to turn up and who was in the side," Flintoff told BBC Radio 5 Live. "The kids were in the car and he told me they didn't want me. He said they've got Brian Lara and all these other people.
"I thought, 'they're all ten years older than me and they've not played for years'. I saw my kids' faces and that's the first time they'd seen their dad told he can't do something. They said, 'never mind, there will be other games'. And I thought, 'There will be actually.'
"It was getting knocked back and wanting to play, practising and realising 'I can still do this', and there was unfinished business when I retired. I'd sooner try and have it not come off than sit at home for the rest of my days thinking, 'I should have tried this, I should have had a go.' I don't live like that."
Flintoff said players like Brad Hogg have shown that age is not a deterrent to succeeding in T20s. "When I'm bowling it still hurts a bit, but I'm loving running into bowl and if I can take that into a game I might be quite dangerous.
"I don't want it to be one year. You see Brad Hogg playing in the Big Bash, Brad Hodge is playing for Australia at 39, Glen Chapple's 40 and still charging in in four-dayers."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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