No fairytale ending for Freddie

Flintoff (left) congratulates Birmingham Bears'  Boyd Rankin
Flintoff (left) congratulates Birmingham Bears' Boyd Rankin
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Birmingham Bears left Edgbaston with the T20 Blast trophy, Laurie Evans took the man-of-the-match honours and Chris Woakes put in a decisive all-round performance.

But Lancashire’s Andrew Flintoff was the name on everyone’s lips after an unexpected return to centre stage.

Former England captain ‘Freddie’ was expected to be little more than a big name cheerleader at Finals Day but was thrust into the spotlight after Kabir Ali was injured in the semi-final win over Hampshire.

On the fifth anniversary of his final England appearance the 36-year-old Preston-born ace rolled back the years, dismissing Ian Bell with his first delivery and coming desperately close to winning the match with the bat.

Given he has been training alone while filming a television show about fish and chips, it was a remarkable effort. He finished 20 not out from just eight balls, two nostalgia-soaked sixes off Oliver Hannon-Dalby teeing up a dramatic finish.

It seemed the script had been written and victory would be Flintoff’s – but it was not to be.