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Don't Call It A Comeback: How To Do A Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff
Andrew Flintoff is set for a comeback - but should we call it a comeback?
©REUTERS / Action Images

Flintoff is back for Twenty20 cricket, and the critics are saying he will struggle. But at 36 he's nothing like as old as many club players who make a similar comeback.

So how can Freddie make his return good, and what can you learn from it at your level if you want to get back in the game?

With the right work at the right time, you can return to playing at the standard to which you have become accustomed; even if the slip past your peak has begun.

Use your hard learned knowledge

Experience goes a long way. Research into the difference between top level and average batsmen has proven top batsman are better predictors of the line and length of the ball from subtle cues by the bowler. In other words, they are using their experience.

This applies to whatever you are doing on the cricket pitch.

You may not have the same zip in your bowling, but you know better than anyone else how to get batsmen out.

You might not be as mobile in the field but you know your limits far more than the 17 year old who throws himself around wildly.

You are most likely to have the trust of the captain and the respect of other players. Use this to  make yourself an indispensable part of the team's management. You can motivate bowler's, keep the field focused and aim to  take wickets through team work like run outs.

Trust your ability

it's a mistake to think a rut of form is the sign of inexorable decline. As we know, experience can more than compensate for physical deficiencies.

You have had successes in your cricket career. You can't put every single one down to blind luck which means you have certain ability. Now you can combine that ability with experience to rack up the runs and/or wickets. You just have to start by believing you can.

Self-belief is a tricky thing though. It's a combination of setting the right goals, being able to let go of mistakes and committing yourself to deliberate practice. If you do these three things you will have trust in your ability and success will follow.

Get intense

Strength and power reduction with age is caused by the gradual slowing of your metabolic rate by 2-4% every 10 years.

The answer?

Intense exercise can hold this slip back by several decades. In other words, you can have almost exactly the same metabolism at 45 (or even 55) that you had at 25.

What kind of exercise does the job?

  • Strength training 2-4 times a week
  • Interval training 2-3 times a week
  • Fielding drills based on fitness
  • Batting/bowling in the nets with little rest
  • A good hard Twenty20 match

If you are starting out you should start slow and build up with the eventual aim of doing some kind of intense training 5-6 days a week totalling 2-4 hours a week. These methods are backed by significant research.

Remember you don't know it all

You can teach an old dog new tricks. The problem is that the dog often is too proud to learn. Don't be that dog.

Most clubs have qualified coaches who would be only too happy to help with your technique. If you don't trust your club coach to do a good job then pay up for lessons.

Is all this more work than when you were 25?

It is.

Do you have less time to do these things than when you were a teenager?

Almost certainly.

Does age give you an excuse to wave a white flag?

With Flintoff as your poster boy; no way!

© 2014 Pitchvision Academy

For more coaching tips, videos and courses, please visit the PitchVision Academy website