Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff confirmed his return to cricket on Friday, five years after announcing his retirement, and will play in English domestic T20 competition for county side Lancashire.
Flintoff proved his fitness and will play against Birmingham Bears in the T20 Blast. The former English skipper had raised comeback speculations during the winter, when he was seen practicing and working in the nets with some other players.
The 36-year-old all-rounder suffered repeated knee and ankle injuries during his career, which forced him to retire in 2009. The former England skipper has played 79 Tests and 141 one-dayers for England before taking retirement post an Ashes win.
"I'm really honoured to be part of Lancashire once again," Flintoff said "It is something that I never thought would happen but after training with the squad over the last few months I am really happy that they have invited me to play.
"I have worked really hard to get back to my fittest and I hope that we have a successful summer. I'm just glad that I can be part of it."
Flintoff made his debut for Lancashire at the age of 17 and scored 4,042 runs with an average of 35.14 in 80 first-class matches. He also took 92 wickets at an average of 29.16.
The former England star said he is not making a short-term comeback and is looking to play for more than one season. Flintoff is confident of performing well seeing players well above his age are still competing at the top level.
"I don't want it to be one year," Flintoff said. "You see Brad Hogg playing in the Big Bash, Brad Hodge is playing for Australia at 39, Glen Chapple's 40 and still charging in four-dayers."
Earlier, it was expected Flintoff would play for Lancashire 2nd XI in a friendly game against a team from North Staffordshire or South Cheshire League before making a return. But Flintoff started training with the first-team ahead of their county match against Yorkshire.
Lancashire cricket director Mike Watkinson said they are delighted to have the former England great involved with the club with which he started his playing career. Watkinson added Flintoff trained with the other players during winter and looked good.
"We are delighted to have Fred involved once again at the club. He is Lancashire through and through and his record for both club and country speaks for itself," said Watkinson. "Fred has been back at Emirates Old Trafford under his own steam since the winter and has been working with the academy and in the nets with some of the other players."
Watkinson added Flintoff still has plenty of spark left in him, and he will be a valuable addition with both bat and ball to the Lancashire T20 squad.