Freddie Flintoff is ‘pinching himself’ to be back involved with England after his near-fatal car crash while filming Top Gear, says Paul Collingwood
- Flintoff is a consultant for England in their one-day series versus New Zealand
- He had a near-fatal car crash while filming for Top Gear in December last year
- The former all-rounder appeared in public for the first time last week since then
Andrew Flintoff is ‘pinching himself’ to be involved with the England team again, according to his 2005 Ashes-winning team-mate Paul Collingwood.
Flintoff is being used by Jos Buttler’s side as a consultant during their one-day series against New Zealand, having appeared in public for the first time last week following a near-fatal car crash while filming the BBC’s Top Gear show in December 2022.
And the former England captain, who played the last of his 79 Tests in 2009, was all smiles in training ahead of today’s third ODI at The Oval, laughing and joking with Jonny Bairstow, and wearing a baseball mitt to act as a makeshift wicketkeeper for Jofra Archer.
‘It’s important for him, and it’s great for the lads to have him around,’ said Collingwood, England’s assistant Test coach. ‘The knowledge he’s got playing the game and pressure situations – he pretty much encapsulated how this white-ball team goes about their cricket. It’s all about putting the opposition under pressure, which is exactly what he did.
‘He’s got to pinch himself at times. It’s like: “I’m working with these guys that I’ve been watching on TV!” For someone like that to say that is really humbling.
Andrew Flintott (pictured) is ‘pinching himself’ to be back involved with England cricket again, according to Paul Collingwood
Flintoff is being used by Jos Buttler’s side as a consultant during their one-day series agaisnt New Zealand
Collingwood, England’s assistant Test coach, played with Flintoff when England won the Ashes in 2005
‘He went more down the entertainment route and been very successful with it as well. But he’s at a time in his life where this is what he wants to do, and the best thing for him mentally is to be in and around the team. I think he’s really enjoyed it.’
Collingwood, the first man to captain England to World Cup success, at the T20 version in 2010, believes the current one-day side are in as good a space as they were heading into the 2019 tournament, where Eoin Morgan’s side triumphed in the final at Lord’s against New Zealand.
‘I think they’re in a very similar position,’ he said, speaking after a child-first coaching session for youngsters, as part of the Children’s Coaching Collaborative’s innovative ‘Play Their Way’ campaign. ‘It’s very rare you go into World Cups and have that genuine belief that we can win this thing, no matter what conditions.
‘Going to India has got its different challenges, but they’ve certainly got the skill levels in that dressing-room and the pool of players who can go out and retain the World Cup. That’s a huge carrot, to retain a World Cup. I’m sure the confidence is there that they can do it.’
Back in 2010, England drafted openers Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter into their T20 side at the last minute, and went on to win the trophy in the Caribbean. This time, the talk is about squeezing Harry Brook into the squad, and Collingwood admitted: ‘He has got a very high ceiling. He’s had an amazing start to his international career, and his stats are incredible. We all know he can win games, but so can the other players that are on the squad as well.
‘You can probably call on 20 or 22 players now who could go on and win that World Cup. Unfortunately, you have to get them down to 15. That just shows how strong the game is at the moment in England. We’re in a really strong position and it’s going to be exciting to see what happens.’
The former England captain was speaking after a session coaching youngsters as part of Chance To Shine’s innovative ‘Play Their Way’ campaign
He said that England have the skill levels and players available to retain the 50-over World Cup in India later this year
Collingwood sang the praises of the Play Their Way scheme, saying it encouraged youngsters to play their natural game in the wake of the Bazball revolution led by Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes.
‘There’s a temptation as a coach to start by teaching children the defensive techniques,’ he said. ‘Don’t get out – play the forward defensive. That’s what you’ve got to learn first.
‘I’m a big believer that you’re not going to get many kids to come back if that’s what you teach first. It’s encouraging the kids to make sure they’re having fun and almost go “I want to hit the ball or bowl the ball fast or spin the ball as much as I can”.
‘Encouraging them to do that and educating coaches to be give them the freedom to express themselves is quite an important thing. To have that mentality as early as possible, you’re allowing a player, however young they are, to express themselves.’
To learn more about Play Their Way, access resources and sign up to join the biggest grassroots movement to transform the way we coach our children and young people visit www.playtheirway.org.
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