Flintoff on the comeback trail
Andrew Flintoff is hopeful that he will resume batting in the New Year as he continues his recovery from knee surgery. The England all-rounder - who hasn't played since the final Ashes Test of the summer - doesn't expect to bowl for some time yet though.
Speaking about his progress to date, Freddie said that it will be 'great to start hitting balls again' as he looks to get himself in adequate condition to compete in the shorter forms of the game for Lancashire and England.
As for the first step in Flintoff's return to cricket, he says that he should 'start batting against a bowling machine' next month, although this is assuming he doesn't have any setbacks in the next couple of weeks. Something he is famous for, it has to be said.
Freddie says that he 'won't be doing anything daft' as this is obviously a crucial stage in his career. It is very important that he doesn't return too early as this could hamper what he is able to achieve in the rest of his life as a cricketer.
This is probably why he is remaining realistic about when he will return. Flintoff says that the prospect of bowling again is 'still some way off'. It could even be a 'good few weeks' until he is able to start practising this form of the game.
Overall, it seems like everyone involved knows how important it is that Flintoff gets the recovery process right. The next aim is to start batting, then he will look to pick up a ball again before hoping to join in with some of Lancashire's training sessions in February.
The 32-year-old will then aim to return to England duties next summer in the one day international and Twenty20 games. If he does return, his presence would provide a boost to England's ODI odds. This may well seem like a long way off, but he has to aim for something. It will be what keeps him going.
The thought of representing his country again and performing to the best of his ability will help him get through this latest bout of rehabilitation. Hopefully it will be a smooth process and he can get back to somewhere near his best before too long, something he thoroughly deserves for everything he has given to English cricket.
Meanwhile, his former international colleagues are preparing for the next match against South Africa as they attempt to enhance England's second Test chances.