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Andrew Flintoff earns T20 future despite final agony

Flintoff hits Oliver Hannon-Dalby for consecutive sixes at the end of the penultimate over

Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is ready for a new career playing Twenty20 cricket around the world after his comeback with Lancashire went close to a fairytale ending in the NatWest Blast final at Edgbaston on Saturday.

The 36-year-old is likely to be offered the chance to play for his home county again in domestic T20 next year and may land opportunities in Australia’s Big Bash and the Ram Slam Challenge tournament in South Africa in the coming winter.

After announcing his comeback in May, Flintoff appeared in only two of Lancashire’s group matches in the NatWest Blast before suffering a calf problem and played in Saturday’s final against Birmingham only after bowler Kabir Ali aggravated a shoulder injury in Lancashire’s semi-final win over Hampshire.

Yet he took the wicket of England batsman Ian Bell with the first delivery of a two-over spell before hitting 20 off eight balls to take Lancashire close to a target of 182 to beat Birmingham.

Coming in at No 9 with Lancashire still 30 runs short with only 13 balls left, Flintoff hit Oliver Hannon-Dalby for consecutive sixes at the end of the penultimate over, only for the task of scoring 14 more off the last six balls to prove just too big for him and partner Stephen Parry as Birmingham prevailed by four runs to lift the trophy for the first time.

Paul Horton, Lancashire’s T20 captain, said of Flintoff: “I’m sure we would find room for him in our squad.

“To come from not playing any cricket to get a wicket with your first ball, and then to walk in at nine needing to make something happen and to hit the ball out of the park, he still has the raw ability to perform at this level.”

Flintoff’s cameo came after another disappointment for Kevin Pietersen, who made only 13 as his Surrey side were knocked out by Birmingham in the semi-finals.