Home > Features >

Andrew Flintoff turns back the clock with good all-round show for Lancashire against Birmingham in T20 Blast Final

ANdrew Flintoff © Getty Images
Andrew Flintoff struck with his very first ball in the NatWest T20 final against Birmingham on Saturday  © Getty Images

Andrew Flintoff’s eleventh hour return to the Lancashire team at the cost of the injured Kabir Ali turned out to be nearly match-winning, though Birmingham eventually triumphed in the T20 Blast Final. Shiamak Unwalla looks at the man whose charisma last lit up the stands five years ago to the day.

There’s something about Freddie. You can never quite tell why he is beloved. He is not the greatest proponent of his art. He is certainly not the most dashing and debonair English cricketer of his generation. He is an everyman. He is a giant. He is the man who chose to console a nearly-tearful Brett Lee rather than celebrate after his team pulled off possibly the greatest Test win they had ever enjoyed.

Andrew Flintoff — Charismatic, Cheerful, Entertaining, Good-natured, Lion-hearted; A man who could break a batsman’s teeth and hit the leather off a ball with equal ease. A man who captured the imagination of England — and indeed the rest of the world — with some wonderful displays with both bat and ball.

It was no wonder, then, that the news of Flintoff’s last-minute inclusion in place of Kabir Ali for the T20 Blast final was met with such vociferous accord by fans and spectators alike. It was a chance of seeing Freddie back in action again. The cricketing gods could not have written more perfect a script; Flintoff would be playing a game exactly five years after he bowed out in unspectacular fashion against Australia at The Oval.

Lancashire were to bowl first. Would Freddie open the bowling? No, but he got an over soon enough. And he struck with the very first ball he sent down; Ian Bell holing out to long-on. The screams of ecstasy that were heard throughout the ground were perhaps not as much from the players in the middle as from the spectators in the stands. Good old Freddie had started off with a wicket.

It didn’t matter that his next over was pummelled and he finished with figures of one for 20 in two overs. What counted was that Freddie had stood up and delivered. There were no spectacular moments in the field after that; none from him anyway. But the Birmingham Bears had somehow got to 181. Surely Flintoff would bat up the order now! Perhaps come in at No 3 and do some damage?

But that was not to be. No 3 came and went. So did No 4. And Nos 5, 6, and 7. Where on Earth was Freddie? Why would anyone waste him all the way down at No 9? Did the Lancs not know who they had in their side? This was the man who carted an attack that boasted of Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Michael Kasprowicz and Jason Gillespie to all ends of this very ground, Edgbaston, in that Ashes game.

But for some strange, unfathomable, wondrous, silly, inexplicable, mind-numbing, foolhardy reason, Freddie was left till it was almost too late. Almost, but not quite. With 26 needed off eight balls, he showed why he should have been batting at least three positions higher. Six down the ground, followed by six over midwicket.

The cricketing gods had spoken. You don’t make Freddie bat at No 9. You just don’t. Unfortunately, with 14 to get off the final over, he could only get five off three balls, and Lancashire went down by an agonising four runs, as Edgbaston roared in approval of both its hometown team’s victory, and an all-round display by one of England’s most loved cricketers of all time.

For the neutral onlooker, it was a tremendous game of cricket made that much sweeter with the return of Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff. Five years after his last game for England, he showed that he had lost none of his endearing lustre. Some things truly never change.

(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

West Indies tour of India 2014, Practice match

Oct 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Mumbai

Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, 2014

Oct 4, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, 2014

Oct 4, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Brisbane

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014  at Bengaluru

Barbados won by 6 wkts (D/L method)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014  at Bengaluru

Perth Scorchers won by 3 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 29, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 36 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 7 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Hobart Hurricanes won by 6 wkts

Photos

Barbados Tridents vs Hobart Hurricanes, CLT20 2014

Videos

Arjuna Ranatunga shares his views on U-19 cricket

Jasprit Bumrah: Sachin Tendulkar giving me my debut cap was my most memorable moment with Mumbai Indians

Sachin Tendulkar fans turn Durga Puja pandal into cricket stadium

Pakistan players would be allowed in IPL soon, hopes Shahryar Khan

Nawaz Sharif’s only First-Class appearance

Ernie Jones — the man who sent a ball through the beard of WG Grace

Asian Games Asian Games 2014 Barbados Tridents Cape Cobras Champions League T20 2014 CLT20 CLT20 2014 Dolphins India at Asian Games 2014 Kings XI Punjab KKR vs Dolphins Kolkata Knight Riders

Afghanistan invites top cricketing nations to play cricket at their backyard

High Court forms selection committees for Rajasthan cricketers

Rohit Sharma ruled out of India-West Indies ODI series

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should appoint Virat Kohli as Test captain: Mohammad Azharuddin

CLT20 2014: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will look to maintain consistency against Chennai Super Kings says George Bailey

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK), 2nd Semifinal, CLT20 2014: KXIP likely XI

CLT20’s structure unfair to non-IPL teams

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-final, CLT20 2014: KKR Likely XI

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-Final, CLT20 2014 – Key battles

CLT20 2014: Players who impressed in the league stage

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

671 Posts | 6 Fans

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab- Final Match Highlights from IPL 2014

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-final, CLT20 2014: KKR Likely XI

Ontario Reports Lower Budget Deficit

NGOs pursue education for all

Research Breakthrough Offers Huge Benefits To Diabetics

Alia Bhatt goofs-up again, unaware of Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan’s resignation!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

6 changes that take place in your breasts during pregnancy

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 to launch in India on October 10

Afghanistan invites top cricketing nations to play cricket at their backyard

Windows 10 Technical Preview now available, here’s how to download it

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here