Andrew Flintoff set to return to England’s backroom staff for Windies T20 series

By Sports Desk December 06, 2023

Andrew Flintoff will rejoin England’s backroom staff for their T20 series against West Indies later this month.

The former England captain has gradually returned to the public eye following a car crash while filming a stunt for BBC programme Top Gear 12 months ago, which left him with facial and rib injuries.

Coaxed by close friend and director of England men’s cricket Rob Key, Flintoff first linked up with the national side in an unpaid role for ODI series against New Zealand and Ireland before the World Cup.

Flintoff, whose performances with bat and ball in England’s 2005 Ashes triumph earned him cult hero status, has since been confirmed as head coach of Northern Superchargers men’s side in The Hundred.

He is not part of the England set-up for their ODI series against the Windies but it is understood he will fly out to Barbados later this week ahead of five T20s, the first of which is next Tuesday.

The 46-year-old, who will be paid for being a team mentor, has most recently been in Abu Dhabi for an England Lions winter training camp.

Reece Topley has also had a circuitous route to the West Indies, having convalesced from his latest injury blow with a trip to Los Angeles – where the people he encountered thought cricket involved horses or was the real-life version of Quidditch.

The introduction of Major League Cricket this year and the sport being included in the programme for the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028 represent big strides in the battle to crack the United States market.

But Topley discovered cricket still has some way to go to capture the American public’s imagination after a Stateside trip to recover from a broken finger which brought an early end to his World Cup.

“The amount of times I had to explain cricket to people – it ranged from people asking me ‘is it the sport with horses?’ Or even asking me if it was the sport that was in Harry Potter,” Topley said.

“It’s got a lot of things that Americans would love about cricket; all of their sports are centred around stats and cricket’s got a million stats.

“I feel like there should be that natural affiliation or selling point. I don’t know if it’s happened just yet but hopefully it’s on the horizon.”

Like Flintoff, Topley is not part of England’s ODI squad but travelled to Antigua early to train ahead of a planned comeback in the first T20, having started bowling again recently.

Having an intrepid outlook on life helps to explain his resilience from constant setbacks, from multiple stress fractures in his back to an ankle issue caused by stepping on a boundary sponge days before England’s triumphant T20 World Cup campaign in Australia and his latest injury in India.

“I don’t think anything is going to be achieved from sitting around and droning on about things or feeling sorry for yourself or looking for external validation,” the 29-year-old left-arm fast bowler said.

“It’s more a case of how do you move forward? The best step is always to have a level head, a drive to want to develop yourself because it is a short career in terms of your life and injuries may happen.

“Wrap my head around why did it happen at the last World Cup or the T20 one before that, but again it’s just not going to get anyone anywhere. It’s just best to just get your head down and work towards it.

“I’m happy doing that when I’m around cricket but then as soon as I’m off duty, it goes right to the back of my head again.

“I don’t think I’m all engulfed in cricket. I do have a viewpoint that I’m still in my 20s and this only comes around once. It’s important to experience certain things whenever you can.”

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