Flintoff joins England practice

Published: Sunday 18th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Former England captain Andrew Flintoff donned the three lions for the first time in five and a half years as he joined in with England’s practice session at the Gabba on Sunday.

Flintoff, who arrived in on a flight from Sydney earlier on, was wearing a black t-shirt and dark shorts but it did not take him long to emerge in full England kit and get stuck in.

The 37-year-old all-rounder, who tried his hand at boxing with a reality TV show and bout two years ago, was in good spirits as he put several of Eoin Morgan’s charges through their paces by holding up pads and giving them the chance to spar against them.

Flintoff is in Australia having earned a Big Bash contract with Brisbane Heat and an ECB spokesman said on Saturday that he would meet up with the side ahead of their Tri-Series clash with India on Tuesday.

The move is understood to have been instigated by head coach Peter Moores, who was keen to have Flintoff around the side during their time Down Under.

Moores’ men are currently regrouping after Australia beat them by three wickets with 61 balls remaining on Friday.

Flintoff was a key figure for the national side during Moores’ ill-fated first stint in charge between April 2007 and January 2009, and the pair also share a Lancashire connection, as former coach and former star player, respectively.

Before he went out into the centre of the pitch to join the players, Flintoff and Moores displayed the mutual respect they have for one another by having a long chat.

Flintoff confirmed he would visit the England squad while commentating on the Big Bash match between the Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunder on Saturday, telling Sky Sports: ”In at the nets at the Gabba tomorrow with the English lads, I don’t know whether I’m a net bowler or what but I’m going to do some work with them.”

The Guardian quoted him as saying: ”I’ll bowl the batsmen back into form.”

But the focus of his involvement early on seemed to centre around the boxing apparatus, with the players taking advantage of Flintoff’s dalliance with the sport.

Flintoff is well known to several members of the current English touring party, having taken the field alongside James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ian Bell during his international career.

But since calling time on his England days, he has played virtually no role whatsoever with the team.

After retiring he was soon swept up by a flurry of media projects, including panel shows, reality television and a one-off boxing match in December 2012.

For five years he was essentially lost to the game that made him one of Britain’s best-loved sportsmen, and he caught many by surprise with his return to cricket last summer.

England will now be hoping his presence can provide the lift they need as they look to get their Tri-Series campaign back on track.

Published: Sunday 18th January 2015 by The News Editor

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