Andrew Flintoff is hoping he can show Chennai Super Kings what they missed out on last year after being named in their preliminary squad for the forthcoming Champions League Twenty20. The England all-rounder, who now lives in Dubai, retired from Test cricket at the end of last summer's Ashes and has not played a competitive game since as he battles back to fitness from a chronic knee complaint. He missed the entirety of the Indian Premier League's (IPL) third season.
As such, the Super Kings, the IPL champions, have not seen much of a man whose services they secured in 2009 with a record bid of US$1.55 million (Dh5.7m). Flintoff is clear he wishes to continue playing the shorter formats of the game in domestic competitions and for his country. He is thought to be around a fortnight away from a playing return, likely to be with his English county Lancashire's second XI, and the presence of his name in Chennai's long list provides a big incentive.
"I spoke to the Chennai coach Stephen Fleming about a week and a half ago, told him where I was at with my fitness and that I would love to represent Chennai again," Flintoff, 32, told PA Sport. "I only got a chance to do that in three games last time I was there, so the Champions League is a possibility. Hopefully I'll make the cut now." Although a place at the glitzy Champions League would provide Flintoff with the ideal stage to prove he can still cut it against some of the world's best players, his immediate focus is on entirely less glamourous fixtures.
"I'm hoping I'll be playing again in the next two weeks," he said. "Lancashire seconds is an option and everyone has been talking about me playing for my old club side St Anne's, which I'm not averse to either. The Champions League is massive but my main incentive now to get out and play for Lancashire. I have to get out on the field for to put myself in position to represent Chennai." The Super Kings' final squad of 15 for the Champions League Twenty20 in September will be announced on August 9. The high-profile 10-team tournament features leading sides from India, hosts South Africa, Australia, the West Indies and Sri Lanka.
There are a number of interesting negotiations due between the rival sides before the final squads are named. A handful of big-name players have been included in more than one shortlist and a decision must soon be made over which they will represent. If they opt to represent an overseas franchise rather than their home employers, a fee of $200,000 must be paid for their services. English county sides are not represented in this year's competition after a scheduling clash.