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Flintoff back for the Blast

Andrew Flintoff has made a sensational return to cricket after confirming he is coming out of retirement to play for Lancashire Lightning in the NatWest T20 Blast.

The former England skipper hung up his boots in September 2010 but, after training with the Red Rose over the last few weeks, has returned to his former county.

"I'm really honoured to be part of Lancashire once again," the 36-year-old 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."

In confirming Flintoff's return, Lancashire did not specify when he was likely to be back in action to boost Glen Chapple's men in their bid to reach Finals Day at Edgbaston in August.

The Lightning are in Blast action at Emirates Old Trafford tonight when they take on Birmingham Bears, before hosting Roses rivals Yorkshire Vikings next Friday.

Lancashire cricket director Mike Watkinson said: "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.

"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. 

"Over a period of time he has picked up on his physical conditioning and this continues to improve. He has shown in practice that he still has plenty of class with bat and ball, and will be a great addition to the NatWest T20 Blast squad."

In his years away from cricket, Flintoff has explored other options - including one bout of professional boxing.

He represented England in 79 Tests, 141 one-day internationals and seven Twenty20s. He also made 80 first-class appearances for his home county, scoring 4,042 runs at 35.14 and taking 92 scalps at 29.16.

Flintoff's Lancashire T20 record consists of 16 games, averaging 13.94 with the ball and 29.64 with the bat, with a best score of 93 versus Derbyshire in 2009.

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