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County tackle Flintoff factor
ANDREW Flintoff is poised to feature against Worcestershire Rapids in tomorrow’s NatWest T20 Blast top-of-the-table clash with Lancashire Lightning at New Road (2.30pm).
Flintoff, who retired from playing five years ago, was added to the Red Rose county’s squad for their abandoned T20 Blast meeting with Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston last night and is in contention to face the Rapids.
The game is already a mouth-watering prospect with Rapids and Lightning battling it out at the top of the North Group on 14 points but the ‘Flintoff factor’ would further boost healthy ticket sales.
Worcestershire business director Jon Graham said: “People have bought into the exciting and successful cricket that has been played by the Rapids this season.
“But it would be an extra incentive to come along if Flintoff is in line to play. He was one of those players who emptied the bars when he came into bat or on to bowl in the same way as with Ian Botham.
“It would be great to see him back playing tomorrow — just as long as the Rapids win!”
Director of cricket Steve Rhodes said: “I don’t know how much cricket he has played but that would be great for our crowds to see a former England captain, one of the best all-rounders England has had.
“I’ve played a lot against Freddie myself, he was a bubbly character, had a huge heart, was a massive striker of the ball and he bowled with pace. We will see how things go now he’s had a bit of a break from the game and I’m sure he will be fit. It’s whether he has still got the skills — and I’m sure he will have.”
Although Worcestershire have been a tough side to beat in this year’s T20 Blast, they will be up against one of the teams to have defeated them.
Rhodes’ men, so often strugglers in 20-over cricket, looked set for another disappointing campaign as they opened with back-to-back defeats at Durham Jets and Lancashire.
However, they won game three against Nottinghamshire Outlaws and have hardly looked back since, surging into quarter-final contention at the top of the table.
New Road skipper Daryl Mitchell was disappointed with his side’s defeat at Old Trafford back in May and is keen to make amends tomorrow.
He said: “Lancashire are up with us at the top of the table, so it will be a big game. We weren’t at our best at Old Trafford earlier in the season, but hopefully we can get over the line this time.”
County legend Richard Illingworth will be one of the umpires for the clash.
Worcestershire suffered more weather misery when last night’s home T20 clash with Yorkshire Vikings was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
Heavy showers led to umpires Illingworth and Jeff Evans calling off the game just after 7pm. For Worcestershire, it was a second successive wash-out in the competition.