Flintoff’s back at St Annes

Andrew Flintoff is to make his big comeback to the game on Saturday at St Annes Cricket Club.

By Steve Simpson
Friday, 30th May 2014, 9:10 am
Flintoff - back where it all started
Flintoff - back where it all started

The former England captain is to play for St Annes in the Northern League against Penrith at the Vernon Road ground where he first made his name before going on to fame as one of the best all-rounders in the world.

Flintoff is using the match as a warm-up to his comeback to the county game with Lancashire - and St Annes are delighted to have their most famous old boy back on board.

Flintoff’s appearance at the Vernon Road ground on Saturday will cause a major stir.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Skipper Andy Kellett announced the news of Flintoff’s return to St Annes before a T-20 match with Fleetwood on Thursday night and the reaction of the younger players in the team was to be stunned that they were about to share a field with one of the best all-rounders of all-time.

Kellett said: “Andrew is as fit as a fiddle - that is why Lancashire are so happy for him to play for them again.

“We don’t know how much we will use him against Penrith and we will discuss that after he arrives at the ground on Saturday.

“It will be a bit weird for me being captain of the side when there is a former England captain in the side, but I have done it before.

“We always knew when Andrew first played here as a youngster that he would go on to much better things, though not the superstar he became.

“Once news gets out he will be playing on Saturday, I am sure it will create a lot of interest.”

Flintoff has come out of retirement to join the Lancashire Lightning’s squad for this year’s NatWest T20 Blast campaign.

The 36-year-old never thought he would get the chance to play competitive cricket again, having last done so almost five years ago, but has been training with Lancashire in recent months and is now relishing his opportunity to return.

“I’m really honoured to be part of Lancashire once again,” he said.

“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.”

In confirming Flintoff’s return, Lancashire did not specify when he was likely to be back in action to boost Glen Chapple’s men in their bid to reach finals day at Edgbaston in August.

Lancashire host Roses rivals Yorkshire Vikings next Friday.

Lancashire cricket director Mike Watkinson said: “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.

“Fred has been back at Emirates 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.”

There was speculation Flintoff might return for Lancashire 2nd XI in a friendly against a representative team from the North Staffordshire and South Cheshire League at Leek on Tuesday.

Instead, he appeared at Headingley to join training with the first-team squad before day three of their LV= County Championship match against Yorkshire.

In his years away from cricket, Flintoff has explored other options - including one bout of professional boxing.

He represented England in 79 Tests, 141 one-day internationals and seven Twenty20 games. He also made 80 first-class appearances for the Red Rose, scoring 4,042 runs at 35.14 and taking 92 wickets at 29.16.

Flintoff’s Lancashire Twenty20 record consists of 16 games, averaging 13.94 with the ball and 29.64 with the bat, with a high score of 93 against Derbyshire in 2009.