Andrew Flintoff will remain part of England’s white ball set-up for the Ireland series after the players praised him for his ‘incredible’ input following his return from a near-fatal car crash.
Flintoff was originally only enlisted to work as an assistant coach for England during their one-day international series against New Zealand but with players eagerly tapping into the expertise of the former all-rounder, he is continuing in the role for the three one-day internationals.
His involvement with England remains flexible, with no longer-term plans yet arranged. Both Flintoff and England’s management are happy to continue with this loose arrangement for the time being yet he is keen to be involved more in the future.
England’s players – both the more experienced side against New Zealand and the younger generation who will feature against Ireland – have hailed his involvement. As he settles into life as part of the coaching staff, working under white-ball head coach Matthew Mott, Flintoff was part of England’s team photo on Friday at Trent Bridge. Following a major car crash while filming Top Gear last December, he has resumed his involvement with professional cricket, and has also worked with England U-19s.
England say there are currently no plans for Flintoff to be part of the official touring party at the World Cup. The ICC’s limit of the sizes of touring parties – 30 per nation – makes it hard to add staff at late notice. David Saker and Marcus Trescothick will go to India as assistant coaches alongside Mott. But the positive impression that Flintoff has made in the England set-up, both throwing balls in training and passing on his advice, means there would seem to be a strong chance he is involved again in some capacity.
Ben Duckett, England’s vice-captain against Ireland, lauded his influence on the squad.
“Honestly incredible. I wasn’t expecting to see him here and to have someone who’s done what he’s done for the game is so special, to have someone like that around,” Duckett said. “I’ve been around England players and stuff. For young lads here to have him throwing balls at you in the nets and talking to you about cricket is incredible.
“He’s very honest and very open. I’d like to think some of the bowlers have been speaking to him especially about bowling with a white-ball.”
Saturday’s ODI will be Duckett’s first white-ball game on English soil. He has played 17 limited-overs internationals so far (11 T20Is and six ODIs) with all overseas bar one T20I in Cardiff. He will be vice-captain on his home ground, a sign of his growing stature in the set-up in recent months, though he was omitted from the World Cup squad. Duckett’s versatility and record in Test cricket means that he, along with Jason Roy, is best-placed to win a call-up to India if any of the batsmen in the 15-man squad suffer injuries.
“I’m pretty used to missing out in the white-ball squad now,” Duckett said. “It’s so hard to break into and you look at one of England’s best white-ball batters ever Jason Roy missing out, if he’s missing out then I don’t feel too bad. It just shows where England cricket’s at and it’s amazing at the minute but what that looks like in six months time, it might be completely different, it might be a very similar squad.”
Duckett did not say whether he has been offered a new multi-year central contract, but welcomed their introduction, which Telegraph Sport revealed this week. He has never previously had an England central contract.
“It kind of gives you a bit of security,” he added. “I think it’s great that they’re offering these contracts. The security of players wanting to keep playing for England is perfect. For me the main thing is walking out and representing my country, it’s not really a contract but that’s a bonus.”
Duckett said he would like to sign a multi-year central contract if offered. “I’d love to play for England, that’s the main thing. If that means I’m going to play more cricket for England then definitely,” he said.
He has already given some thought to England’s next Test tour, the five-match series in India in January. In 2016, aged 22, he struggled against Ravichandran Ashwin. Should he encounter former Nottinghamshire team-mate Ashwin again, he vowed to be altogether more positive.
“This group of players is far different to 2016 and I’m certainly not going to get out playing as many forward defensives if I’m there,” Duckett added. “It’s a chance to go and play a different brand of cricket, which I don’t think anyone’s done over there, which will be exciting.
“I will be working at it for the next couple of months, but the obvious one is Ashwin – he’s gonna get me out,” Duckett laughed. “He’s one of the best bowlers ever, especially to left-handers. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now and trying to tweak little things here.”