England news May 31, 2014

Botham fears for Flintoff comeback

ESPNcricinfo staff

Andrew Flintoff is hoping that his professional comeback with Lancashire is not just a brief career revival but Ian Botham has said Flintoff's plans are a "massive mistake."

Flintoff, who last played in 2009, signed a T20 deal with his county on Friday and will play for his original club, St Annes, on Saturday as he puts the final pieces in place to make a return to the Lancashire side, which could come in the Roses clash against Yorkshire next Friday.

However, Botham fears that Flintoff may not have fully appreciated the gamble he is taking after the knee injury which previously curtailed his career.

"While I wish him all the very best, I think he is making a massive mistake," Botham wrote in his column the Daily Mirror. "We've not seen Fred on a cricket field since those memorable days in 2009 - and five years is a long time out of the game.

"For those that can't remember that far back, Fred had no choice but to quit cricket because of a chronic knee injury that had made walking difficult let alone bowling at 90 miles an hour. Unless he's managed to swap knees with someone, I don't know how it has suddenly got better, allowing him to tear in and play the game properly.

"To come back after five years out of the game and with that injury still in the background is a huge risk. I just hope he does not let himself down too badly."

When the comeback was first rumoured a few weeks ago it was soon being reported that Flintoff was gaining interest from Big Bash League franchises in Australia and the Caribbean Premier League, which begins in late July, could be another option for him to expand his T20 portfolio if his Lancashire return does not hit problems.

After putting pen to paper at Old Trafford, Flintoff had no designs on this being a short-lived return to the cricket limelight and instead looked at those players still performing regularly into their late 30s and early 40s.

"I don't want it to be one year," he said an interview with the BBC. "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.

"When I'm bowling it still hurts a bit, but I'm loving running in to bowl and if I can take that into a game I might be quite dangerous.

"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."

On Friday evening, having trained with Lancashire before their T20 Blast match against Warwickshire, Flintoff was expressing his excitement over Twitter.

"What a day, like starting school again if Carlsberg made schools!" he posted, before adding, "Off to bed for a sleepless night, playing Penrith tomorrow! Must Remember to bite my lip if they sledge , too old for that nonsense I hope!"

He also joked that he may find it difficult to get into the Lancashire side after they secured their fourth win in a row by beating Warwickshire. "Should have come back a couple of years ago when we weren't as good @LancsCCC !! Going to be tough to get in this side."

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