JASON GILLESPIE has backed Andrew Flintoff in his attempt to return to professional cricket – although the former England all-rounder will not play against Yorkshire tonight in the T20 Blast.
Yorkshire first-team coach Gillespie has thrown his support behind Flintoff five years after his last match for England. But the big comeback appearance – which had been mooted for tonight’s Roses match at Old Trafford (6.30pm start) – is on hold after Lancashire deemed Flintoff is not yet ready.
“Absolutely good on Freddie for giving it a go,” said Gillespie, a former Australia fast bowler.
“He doesn’t want to be down the local having a few pints with his mates in 10 years’ time going, ‘I wish I’d taken this opportunity’, so I’m all for it.
“If he feels fit and firing, then good on him.
“He’s a lovely bloke and I wish him well, although five years out of the game is obviously a long time.”
Flintoff, 36, joined Lancashire’s T20 squad last Friday. But after playing league cricket at the weekend and for Lancashire’s second string yesterday, for whom he took 2-39 from four overs and scored 16 against Leicestershire in the Second XI T20 Finals Day at Arundel, it became clear that tonight’s match – before a likely 16,000 sell-out – had come too soon.
“I wish him well because I had some great battles with Freddie during my career,” said Gillespie.
“To be honest, I’m glad I’m not playing any more because I didn’t like facing him, I can assure you.
“When Freddie was in the mood with the bat, he was absolutely dynamic, but the Roses match will be a great occasion whoever Lancashire pick.”
Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale has been penalised under the England and Wales Cricket Board’s disciplinary code.
Gale was reported by umpires Peter Willey and Ian Gould for a Level Two breach of the code (showing serious dissent at an umpire’s decision by word or action) during last month’s Championship Roses match at Headingley.
Gale, who protested after being given out caught behind by Willey only for the umpire to reverse his decision, has been given six penalty points. The accumulation of nine or more penalty points in a two-year period results in automatic suspension.
Yorkshire squad for tonight’s game (from): Bairstow, Bresnan, Brooks, Finch, Gale (captain), Hodd, Leaning, Lees, Lyth, Patterson, Pyrah, Rafiq, Rashid, Robinson.