Andrew Flintoff donned the Three Lions for the first time in five and a half years on Sunday, sparring with the England squad in the Gabba outfield and turning his arm over in the nets.
The former Test captain, who made a surprise comeback from retirement with Lancashire last summer, has been playing in the Big Bash with Brisbane Heat and was invited to link up with England by coach Peter Moores.
The 37-year-old’s first involvement called to mind his brief dalliance with the boxing world in 2012. Fortunately, there were no knockout blows landed on the one-time heavyweight.
Later in the session he took to the nets and, after a long watching brief, bowled a tidy spell at the next generation of England all-rounders, Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes.
Flintoff’s return to the fold, however brief, is a surprise given England’s previous reluctance to draft in former stars and the Lancastrian’s own career trajectory.
Some of those involved – James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara – played alongside Flintoff but younger members of the party had the chance to share a moment with a man who inspired many during the 2005 Ashes series.
Wicketkeeper batsman Jos Buttler is one of those who reveres Flintoff, and knows the galvanising effect he has on a dressing room having played together in last season’s NatWest T20 Blast final.
“That was the first I really met him and just to be in the changing room with him was great,” said Buttler.
“To say I played with ‘Freddie’ Flintoff is something I never, ever thought would happen but it was a great experience because he’s such a good guy to have around.”
Moores, who enjoyed a good relationship with Flintoff during his first stint in charge of England, was the driving force behind the nostalgic get together.
And he suggested that Flintoff may not be the last star name he calls to visit the current group.
“Any player who’s played for their country, and played brilliantly, it’s great to have them around the squad,” he said. “With past players, to make sure we build up those relationships is important.”
England’s next Tri-Series match is on Tuesday, when they face India who on Sunday lost to Australia by four wickets. Rohit Sharma made 138 to steer India to 267-8 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground after winning the toss, but Aaron Finch’s 96 anchored the home side’s successful chase with an over to spare.Reuse content