Since announcing his decision to return to first-class cricket with Lancashire last week the cricketing World has been talking about Andrew 'Freddy' Flintoff and whether he could rediscover his form of old.
In order to gain match fitness, and generally reacquaint himself with the game, Flintoff decided that a game of club cricket for St Annes against Penrith in the Northern Premier League was the perfect opportunity to do this. He did not disappoint, particularly with his bowling.
Flintoff looked impressive with figures of 12-5-26-3, which included a smart caught and bowled. Although not bowling regularly at his old paces he did crank it up to around 80mph at one stage and looked to be in a good rhythm once his spell came to an end.
His batting though was a different story as he managed just two runs from three balls before being caught on the boundary.
Flintoff started his cricketing career at St Annes, debuting at 14 years of age, so it was fitting that he should play his first game competitively, after a five-year absence, for them. His family are all associated with St Annes - his father was Chairman and his grandfather follows their games both home and away - so the Vernon Road ground was the perfect venue. He also helped to swell the crowd from a normal 50 spectators to around 250.
His last meaningful appearance in cricket was five years ago, in the 2009 Ashes, when he ran out Australian captain Ricky Ponting in the final test. However, persistent injuries curtailed his career earlier than he would have hoped but he now appears to be confident about his fitness for the shorter format of the game and is clearly still passionate about the game itself.
Hopefully Flintoff's return will not prove to be an anti-climax for him or Lancashire as, without any injuries, there is potential for further success for the idolised Lancastrian.
Lancashire have started their T20 season very well so it could prove difficult for Flintoff to force his way into a successful side but most people will be hoping the former England all-rounder's name will be on the team sheet against Yorkshire in the big Roses T20 battle on Friday.
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