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."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Edwin on June 2, 2014, 13:10 GMT

    There seems to be a strong point missing here - Flintoff can hit the ball as hard and far as anyone in the game - he's not just a bowler.

  • Dummy4 on June 1, 2014, 7:08 GMT

    I honestly don't agree with 'nothing ventured nothing gained'. It has the potential to be very humiliating. There was an article on CI about comebacks long after the effect, famously Wally Hammond, Don Bradman and George Headley,

    I don't think any of them have been successful over any sort of time period. The only two I can think of who did okay were Jon Agnew and Fred Titmus who turned out in special cases for one game only. Titmus was an offie of course, they can go on for ever, and Agnew bowled very gentle medium on his own admission.

    If he was batting and his fielding was up to it I might say give it a go as a batter, but the bowling is just asking for trouble, even if the knee stands up.

    Hogg and Chapple are irrelevant. One's a spinner and the other is still playing full time.

    Of course, what it would do is boost the crowd for the game ...... which may of course be the whole point for Lancashire.

    He's probably a bit bored and not happy at not being in the limelight.

  • David on May 31, 2014, 23:17 GMT

    I love Freddie, but I'm probably with Beefy on this one. History has generally not been kind to sportsmen attempting a come-back after a sizeable period out of the game.

  • shankar on May 31, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    "When I'm bowling it still hurts a bit..." That is a million red flags, and some billions of red flags more. I do not know a single player who has made a premature comeback from an injury NOT getting hurt again immediately. Had Flintoff been feeling no pain at all, I would have given him a go-for-it. But with pain, it is not only career-threatening, it is permanent-disability-for-life-threatening. Flintoff gives examples of Hogg, Hodge etc. but fails to notice that they are injury-free. Moreover, cricket now is more than just batting/bowling.If Flintoff can't bowl without pain, how will he put those slides/dives/somersaults in the field like an acrobatic swimmer in a pool? I have myself made premature comebacks after something as basic as an ankle-twist, and they never went well. I suggest him to enjoy life with non-professional sports, skiing, paragliding, commentary, TV, coaching/mentoring etc. At 35,he is young enough to make a successful career in a brand new activity (not cricket)

  • Dummy4 on May 31, 2014, 18:30 GMT

    Better to regret something you try than something you didn't. It's corny and pithy - but true none the less.

  • Colin on May 31, 2014, 18:27 GMT

    If he fails, so what! Nothing ventured nothing gained! Hodge and Hogg have done alright (I know they aren't quick bowlers!) but I can't see Freddie tarnishing his reputation. I do think he needs to take it easy and not play every game or charge in full pelt in one over bursts but I am sure Lancashire know this. I suspect he'll play their home games if they have any commercial sense and rest him when they play away!

  • Dummy4 on May 31, 2014, 18:05 GMT

    cant wait to see big FF back, great for him and the game in general !!

  • Dummy4 on May 31, 2014, 16:49 GMT

    Hmm i understand what Botham is saying. However, Flintoff clearly has unfinished business with cricket. So he's one of those players who brings the crowds in. I'm sure Flintoff thought this decision over. Good luck to him. Great to see him back

  • Jem on May 31, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    Maybe a mistake but as he suggests, it's better to regret doing something than to regret not even trying to do something. I don't blame Fred at all and hope for some success for him. If it doesn't work out, that doesn't detract from his previous achievements. Best of luck Fred - I for one, can't wait to see you back! Jem Lloyd

  • Clifford on May 31, 2014, 14:35 GMT

    Best of luck to Freddie for having a go. One never knows how it may turn out. Nothing beats experience and he certainly doesn't have to bowl at 90 mph to be good. His batting should be okay and he's a strong lad, so all may be well!

  • No featured comments at the moment.