Andrew Flintoff’s 16-year-old son, Rocky, has scored his maiden century for Lancashire’s second XI.

The teenager conjured up memories of his father’s flamboyant hitting as he peeled off 116 in 165 balls against Warwickshire’s second string, hitting 11 fours and three sixes at Edgbaston.

On the same ground where ‘Freddie’ Flintoff struck 167 – his best Test score – against the West Indies in 2004, Rocky made light of his rookie status with a series of punishing blows into the leg side.

Batting for long periods with Saqib Mahmood and sharing a stand of 39 with his 18-year-old brother Corey, the youngster put in an eye-catching display against an attack featuring highly-rated seamer Che Simmons and former England Lions spinner Jake Lintott.

Rocky Flintoff only made his second XI debut earlier this month, a matter of days after turning 16, and hit a half-century against Durham last week.

While his sons take their first steps in the game, Flintoff senior is stepping up his return to the sport and is set to travel to the T20 World Cup in June as part of England’s backroom team.

Flintoff will also act as head coach of Northern Superchargers this summer, furthering his reintegration into the cricketing fold following the major car crash he suffered while filming Top Gear in late 2022.

England seamer Saqib Mahmood has revealed he considered taking a break from red-ball cricket after a second stress fracture in as many years threatened to derail his career.

A serious back injury struck him down soon after a promising debut Test tour of the West Indies in March 2022 and hit again at the start of last summer, when the problem reoccurred just as he was hoping to put his name in the Ashes frame.

During the long and lonely months of rehabilitation he told Lancashire he planned to step away from the first-class game this season and ease himself back in as a T20 specialist.

He has since banished the idea, enthused by the arrival of new head coach Dale Benkenstein and by his own love of the longer format, and although he will miss this week’s Vitality County Championship curtain-raiser he is working towards a full comeback in the next month.

“It’s quite overwhelming to think that two years of my career have just sort of gone. I don’t want to have a third year like that,” he said.

“Initially I didn’t want to play any red ball cricket at the start of this season. At the back end of last summer I had a chat to the guys here because I was nervous about my body.

“I was asking for a little bit of empathy from the guys. I just want to be on the park contributing, not on the sides. I don’t want to be chasing Test cricket at the start of the season, breaking down and then not be any good to anyone. I want to do it properly.

“We left it as a question mark and when Benky (Benkenstein) came in he sort of filled me with that excitement again – a new coach telling me how important I was.

“So you have more chats and you try to find a way of doing it in as safe a way as possible. I’ve gone from not wanting to play it this year to trying to get ready for it.”

While Lancashire certainly took Mahmood’s concerns seriously, those even closer to him were more sceptical that he would be able to commit exclusively to the limitations of the limited-overs game.

“My brother told me ‘I knew you’d never do that. No way would you would sit on the side watching the guys play’. That’s not who I am,” he admitted.

“I still watch Test cricket more than I watch white-ball cricket, I still focus on it. As soon as I’ve got a red ball in hand I really love the things that come with it: trying to work batters out, the craft of bowling, things I pride myself on.

“Even the short experience I had in Test cricket, I didn’t want to give that up. It might feel like I’ve put a tick in the box by playing Test cricket but I feel I’ve got more to give in that format.

“My mindset is just to be fit. If I stay fit and do the right things I like to think the England stuff should take care of itself. Last year I was really trying to push myself to get ready for the Ashes and in the end I did too much, too soon by trying to look for something that wasn’t quite there.

“I don’t expect to be bowling at 90mph tomorrow, ready to play in an England shirt, it’s a process.
Hopefully by the time I start I’ll peak at the right time.”

Spinner Shoaib Bashir has been granted an Indian visa and can now rejoin the England squad, the England and Wales Cricket Board has confirmed.

The uncapped 20-year-old, a British Muslim with Pakistani heritage, was unable to travel to India for the start of England’s upcoming five-Test series due to delays with his visa application.

He initially remained in Abu Dhabi after the team’s recent training camp but was later forced to return to the UK to complete the process.

It was confirmed on Wednesday that the Somerset youngster had belatedly received the necessary stamp of approval in London and would now be able to fly out to India.

The news comes too late for him to be involved in the first Test in Hyderabad, which begins on Thursday, but he should be back with the team in the coming days.

An ECB spokesperson said: “Shoaib Bashir has now received his visa and is due to travel to join up with the team in India this weekend. We’re glad the situation has now been resolved.”

England captain Ben Stokes expressed his frustration over the episode, but said initial thoughts the team should not travel until the issue was resolved were quickly dispelled.

Stokes said: “When I first found the news out in Abu Dhabi, I did say we shouldn’t fly until Bash gets his visa, but that was a little bit tongue in cheek.

“I know it’s a way bigger thing, doing that. That was probably just (my) emotions around the whole thing. There was never a chance that we were not going to travel around this, but Bash knows he’s had our full support.

“I’m pretty devastated that Bash has had to go through this. As a leader, as a captain, when one of your team-mates is affected by something like that you do get a bit emotional.”

Bashir, who was called up for the tour after making just six first-class appearances, is not the first player to encounter difficulties receiving a visa for India.

Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood, whose parents hail from Pakistan, had to be withdrawn from an England Lions tour of India in 2019 after similar delays, while Australia opener Usman Khawaja was a late arrival on his country’s Test trip in 2023.

Last year the Pakistan Cricket Board also wrote to the International Cricket Council to express concerns over waiting times for World Cup visas.

England had called for assistance from counterparts at the Board of Control for Cricket in India for Bashir, with new operations manager Stuart Hooper leading negotiations in the United Arab Emirates, but were informed the player needed to present his passport in person at the Indian high commission in London.

James Anderson is as fit as ever and could play professional cricket until he is 50, according to England and Lancashire team-mate Saqib Mahmood.

Veteran Anderson, who celebrates his 41st birthday on Sunday, has been included in his country’s unchanged 14-man squad for this week’s Ashes finale against Australia.

Amid speculation it may be his Test swansong, all eyes will be on how much of a role he plays at the Kia Oval after England’s hopes of reclaiming the urn were wiped out by wet weather in the fourth match.

Sidelined Mahmood, who on Tuesday will undergo a scan on the recurrence of a stress fracture in his back, believes Anderson is far from finished, despite struggling for wickets in the current series, which Australia lead 2-1.

“I’d like to think he’s going to keep playing on after this,” Mahmood told the PA news agency, speaking at the launch of KP Snacks’ community cricket pitches initiative which will fund 100 new pitches over the next three years.

“He’s been so consistent, he’s just had a little blip over the last few weeks and I am sure he will come good.

“You don’t get that many wickets without blips in your career, so I don’t think that is any biggie.

“In a few years’ time after he retires or whenever that may be – he’ll probably play until he’s 50 now – is when you’ll realise I was around a very special cricketer and he’ll go down as one of the best in the game.”

Asked if Anderson is capable of continuing for another decade, Mahmood replied: “Probably. Because he’s as fit as ever. He just seems to keep playing and keep getting better.

“His record over the last 12, 18 months is as good as anyone’s, I would imagine.”

While Anderson’s international future is once again a topic for debate, fellow seamers Mahmood and Reece Topley are on the comeback trail with eyes on this autumn’s ICC Cricket World Cup in India.

Topley, whose career has been littered with injuries, expects to make his return from a dislocated shoulder next week when Northern Superchargers take on Birmingham Phoenix at Headingley in their opening fixture of this season’s Hundred.

The 29-year-old left-armer believes fast bowlers across the sport will be seeking the advice of Anderson when he eventually does retire.

“He’s almost like a unicorn in the sense that it’s unheard of,” Topley said of the longevity of Anderson, who has taken a remarkable 689 wickets in 182 Test appearances – both England records.

“There’s no magic pill or anything like that, it’s just hard work.

“He’s a master of his craft, he’s worked at his craft and that mindset has surely translated into looking after his body as well.

“I’m sure every fast bowler is going to have him on speed dial, if he does hang them up, to tap into some of his secrets.

“I know he’s had a relatively quiet series but he’s obviously got the class and it wasn’t that long ago that we were all singing his praises so I’m sure he’s not far off a hatful of wickets, no matter if it is his last Test.”

:: KP Snacks are funding 100 new community cricket pitches over the next three years. To find out more and search for a pitch visit:

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.