Modern cricket icon Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff is out of retirement and back, well at least for nine games. The all-rounder has come out of a injury inflicted retirement to take part in this years Natwest T20 Blast tournament for his boyhood club Lancashire. This has caused a major buzz around the English game as many believe that we didn’t get to see all of the best of Flintoff as the injury caused his career to become stop-start.
Flintoff retired in 2010 after years of constant niggling injuries that cost him many years of his playing career. He started his professional career off at his local county Lancashire, where he remained till the end of his playing career. He was also the captain of the England Under-19 side in the mid to late 1990’s. He had the honour in 2005 of being selected for the ICC World XI side in both the Test and the ODI format to play against Australia in a series of exhibition matches. He won many personal accolades too. He was the; PCA Player of the Year two years running in 2004 and 2005, he won the ICC ODI Player of the Year in 2004 and then the ICC Player of the Year in 2005. In 2006, he also picked an MBE for being part of the 2005 Ashes winning team and also, the Freedom of the City of Preston in the same year.
Fred played 79 Test matches for England, 141 ODI matches and just 7 T20 international matches as he was usually injured around the time of the inception of T20. This meant he never normally got to play for Lancashire as he was always involved with the national set up, so it gives his local fans the chance to finally see him in the Lancashire red.
Flintoff became an icon in 2005 as he was one of the main stars in England’s triumphant Ashes winning series, their first Ashes win since 1987 and Flintoff went on to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2005. He was named as man of the series as he took 24 wickets, and scored 102 at Trent Bridge in the fourth test. He would later go on to captain England at Test level and potentially his lowest moment on the pitch came during the defence of their Ashes crown. England were decimated 5-0 down under and when Michael Vaughan returned from injury, Flintoff was assigned the role of vice captain.
“Freddie” is known for his drinking. After the 2005 Ashes victory, the Preston born all-rounder was reported to have gone on a 24 hour binge drinking session to celebrate their win but that wasn’t going to be his most infamous drinking moment. Just two days before England’s crunch tie against Canada at the 2007 Cricket World Cup, Flintoff and a few of the England squad went out for a few drinks but all of the came back but Fred. He was reported to have fallen off a pedalo whilst intoxicated but later went on to deny that.
Since retirement, Freddie Flintoff has been busy off the field. in 2012, he made his professional boxing debut as he beat Richard Dawson on points in Manchester. This would be his only fight to date but he has made a new career for himself on television. Since 2010, he has been a captain on the BAFTA winning A League Of Their Own, presented by Gavin & Stacey star James Corden. in 2012, he was a judge for ITV’s Lets Get Gold and more recently, he embarked on a cycling trip down the Amazon rainforest with journalist Rob Penn entitled Flintoff’s Road To Nowhere. He is one of the faces for the supermarket chain Morrisons, and the face of fashion brand Jacamo.
Flintoff’s return to country level is a huge boost to the T20 Blast as his return will be greatly anticipated as he never really got the chance to play this format of the game, a format that would have suited his style of play perfectly. His internationally statistics don’t paint a great picture of Flintoff as a player but his impact and influence on his nation was a lot greater than his batting and bowling average. Many will be looking out to see how Flintoff plays as he will be available for around 9 games and is expected to make his return against Yorkshire on the 6th of June at Old Trafford. For those in the crowd, watch out…Freddie is back!