FORMER England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff helped Lancashire to a crushing T20 victory over Worcestershire in his first high level match in five years.
Worcestershire suffered their first defeat in the T20 Blast in nine games after impressive Lancashire piled on a mammoth 229-4 after being put into bat by the home side before Flintoff took two wickets with the ball to help his side to a 50-run win.
In Flintoff’s first significant match since bowing out when England clinched the Ashes at The Oval in 2009, his batting duties were not needed as former South African star Ashwell Prince (68) and England’s Jos Buttler (50) stared for the visitors who made their best ever total in T20 history.
Despite a bright start with openers Daryl Mitchell and Richard Oliver sharing a stand of 90, Worcestershire were left too much to do as wickets tumbled late on preventing them getting the 230 they needed to pull of an unlikely victory.
After two back-to-back washouts, the sun was finally out at New Road as Mitchell opted to bowl first with his side looking to maintain their strong form in the competition having only lost two times in ten games.
But his bowlers failed to apply any early pressure as Lancashire lived up to their T20 nickname by making a ‘lightning’ start to proceedings.
Opener Tom Smith hit two fours and a six in Saeed Ajmal’s opening over before being stumped for 30 off the last ball of the fourth over by the Pakistan spinner.
Prince and Karl Brown then shared a stand of 60 as Lancashire set a solid platform for a huge total. After Brown (29) fell off the bowling of Colin Munro England star Jos Butller took the attack to the Worcestershire bowlers.
Buttler made a quickfire 55 off just 28 balls before he was dismissed after a brilliant catch by Brett D’Oliveira at the boundary.
Prince was then run out as the visitors looked to get their total past 200 before late hitting from Steven Croft helped them to a huge total.
Needing their highest ever T20 score to win, Worcestershire kept the match alive as openers Mitchell and Richard Oliver took the attack to the Lancashire bowlers.
An opening stand of 90 came to an end in the ninth over when Mitchell was stumped for 46 off a wide ball by Croft.
And just two overs later saw the home side lose their second opener as Oliver was caught by Steve Parry off the bowling of Croft for 44.
Comeback star Flintoff, who conceded 15 runs off his opening over, then checked Worcestershire’s progress further when he bowled Tom Kohler-Cadmore for just six.
And with the game almost over following the wickets of Ross Whiteley (3) and Munro (28), Flintoff struck again when he dismissed Alexei Kervezee before they finished on 179-7.