LONDON: Andrew Flintoff prepared for his anticipated Lancashire comeback by taking three wickets for his old club side on Saturday. Friday saw Lancashire announce that the 36-year-old all-rounder was back in their Twenty20 squad five years after the former England captain’s injury-induced retirement. And ahead of his expected return to county duty in Lancashire’s Twenty20 clash at home to arch-rivals Yorkshire at Old Trafford this coming Friday, Flintoff took three for 26 in 12 overs, including five maidens for St Annes against Penrith in the Northern League.
He fared less well with the bat, managing just two but St Annes, chasing 133 for victory, still won by two wickets. Flintoff told his Twitter followers: “Loving my day - 11 (sic) overs and great fun. “Had a bit if help from Watty the keeper for my first wicket, still not sure it carried.” After his brief innings, Flintoff added: “Blocked one to long off for 2 off 3 !!” England great Ian Botham warned Flintoff was making a “massive mistake” in coming out of retirement. Flintoff, like Botham a pace bowling all-rounder and ex-England captain, was forced to quit in 2009, his ankles and knees having repeatedly suffered from the pounding they took as he charged in.
“While I wish him all the very best, I think he is making a massive mistake,” Botham wrote in his column in Saturday’s Daily Mirror tabloid. “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,” Botham added. “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.” But after Saturday’s club fixture, Flintoff responded by tweeting: “Thanks for your concerns àBeefyBotham but being happy is never a mistake!” A powerful batsman and aggressive bowler, Flintoff’s greatest all-round series came when he scored 402 runs and took 24 wickets as England regained the Ashes 2-1 in 2005.
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