Andrew Flintoff – universally called Freddie after the Flintstones character – comes to Horsham’s Capitol theatre on June 4 on the second leg of his 28 gig tour with his friend, TV producer and writer Clyde Holcroft.
Freddie says: “We hope the tour will be a lot of laughs and an excuse for us to talk about life and the lighter side of cricket.” That is a given! Freddie’s highly entertaining cricket exploits are still fresh in the memory: five Test centuries and almost 16,000 runs and well over 600 wickets in all formats. Various players were selected to fill the all-rounder spot vacated by Ian Botham but only Freddie provided a genuine replacement, his destructive batting and “go to” bowling beloved by captains when a game changer was urgently required. In one day mode he was often devastating, David Gower describing Freddie’s NatWest quarter final 135 as: “The most awesome innings that we’re ever going to see on a cricket field.”
Strings of top awards accompanied Freddie’s MBE and installation as BBC Sports Personality, recognising his sporting spirit as well as his achievements. But Freddie’s unstinting exertions came at considerable personal sacrifice, much surgery being required in attempts to prolong a career that nobody wished to end. A miraculous recent comeback was much savoured but now that Freddie finally seems to have retired from professional cricket he is forging an increasingly versatile but equally captivating career in entertainment. Many sportsmen struggle when playing finishes, but Freddie’s new even more versatile role is proving him to be an equally dependable and entertaining performer in the glare of the footlights – winner of Australia’s King of the Jungle, TV and radio presenter, touring Britain in his bespoke fish and chip van, documentaries, team captain in the BAFTA winning ‘A League of Their Own’, male model, commentator, newspaper columnist and prize-winning boxer are some recent highly popular ventures. “Failing isn’t a problem – but not having a go is a crime”, Freddie says.
Did Freddie ever play cricket at Horsham? “Yes! I played for England U19s against a Sussex XI – the smaller grounds are nice venues and it’s great to be close to the crowd.” The scorecard revealed that even in 1995 Freddie’s batting was a force to be reckoned with, he top scored.
Freddie told the District Post: “My wife hails from Sussex so I spend a fair bit of time here and I’ve just been with Luke Wright’s father and brother at an Ardingly College Cricket Academy camp. It was great working with the kids.” Does Freddie miss cricket? “At the moment I’m busy but I’m sure I’ll miss it when I’m 70. My two lad’s play, so does my brother and my 65 year old dad is still turning out. I’ll play a few games for my original club, St Annes if tour commitments permit.” Nothing is more certain that larger-than-life Freddie will give his all, whatever future opportunities open up for him – and we shall all feel much the better after enjoying his new challenges.