Freddie Flintoff's Field of Dreams: The remarkable story of Preston Afghanistan refugee Adnam and how his Lancashire foster carers made his cricket aspirations possible

When Preston-born Andrew ‘Freddie Flintoff inspired a group of young Preston lads to take up cricket for his series ‘Field of dreams’ he’d hoped to discover some new talent in his home town as well as making the ‘posh’ sport more accessible.

Monday, 25th July 2022, 2:11 pm

The former international cricketer succeeded in creating a team from unlikely teenagers but it was a traumatised 16-year-old Afghanistan refugee called Adnam who proved to be his biggest find – and he has a remarkable back story.

The youngster was in Lancashire County Council foster care when he was discovered by producers for the BBC show and it was suggested he should join Freddie’s fledgling team. From first throw it was obvious he had talent.

Adnan’s foster parents Barry and Elaine said they are both very proud of him.

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Adnam - Freddie Flintoff's Field of Dreams

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Elaine, from Preston, said: “To have impressed Freddie Flintoff, just shows how talented Adnan is. When Adnan arrived with us in March of last year, he went out into our garden and started bowling golf balls in our little driving range. Barry and I were immediately struck by his obvious natural ability.

“But there’s much more to Adnan than his sporting abilities. His story is astonishing.

“Effectively, Adnan travelled in the back of a lorry from Afghanistan to Calais by foot boat, truck and cars. In Calais he hid in an empty lorry and found his way to Preston. When he arrived here, he cut himself out of the lorry and handed himself in to the police.

Afghanistan refugee Adnam, star of Freddie's Flintoff's Field of Dreams

“Barry and I have total admiration for Adnan. In making his way to the UK, he has displayed astonishing levels of courage and ingenuity. Since he came to stay with us, he has learnt English, made lots of friends at college and of course, demonstrated his fantastic ability to play cricket.

“Adnan is genuinely gifted and we’re privileged to have got to know him”.

Adnan said he was frightened on arriving in Preston: “I just sat in my bedroom for the first couple of weeks. I couldn’t speak a word of English. Barry said ‘football’ which I understood but I shook my head. Barry then said ‘cricket’, and I suddenly thought, he’s talking my language.

“I went into the garden and started bowling golf balls in the golf driving net. I think Elaine and Barry were both impressed with my technique and how quickly I could bowl the ball.

Freddie with Adnam's foster parents

“When I arrived in the UK, I hadn’t heard of Freddie Flintoff. I definitely know who he is now. He’s a legend … for me to be involved in his television programme is a great opportunity.

“Freddie has offered me a lot of coaching and encouragement, and I really hope I can continue to improve as a cricketer. I will continue to work hard and you never know, I might just get somewhere.

“If I achieve just a fraction of what Freddie has achieved in the game, I will be extremely proud. I’d like to thank Freddie, Elaine and Barry, and the many other people here in Preston, for their love, help and support”.

Elaine added: “We only know a tiny amount about the trauma Adnan has experienced in Afghanistan and during his dangerous journey to the UK. Despite all of that, over the past 16 months, Barry and I have watched Adnan learn English, flourish as a cricketer and develop into a fine young man”.

Adnam - Freddie Flintoff's Field of Dreams

County Councillor Cosima Towneley, Lancashire’s cabinet member for children and families, said: “There’s no doubt that Adnan is a very talented cricketer and it was lovely to see Freddie Flintoff taking such great interest in him.

“Adnan has faced extraordinary challenges in his young life, and we are delighted he found a safe, secure and happy home with Elaine and Barry through the Lancashire Fostering Service.”

“Like all our foster carers, Elaine and Barry are part of a very special breed by opening their home and lives to children and youngsters like Adnan, they open a world of opportunity.

“We’re always keen to hear from people who are interested in fostering. There's no typical foster carer and our carers are different ages and come from many different backgrounds.

“The most important thing is what you can offer to a child or young person at a pivotal moment of their life."

If you think this could be you visit https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/fostering/can-i-foster/ or call 0300 123 6723.

The show:

For three weeks, viewers were kept entertained as the sporting legend created a cricket team from scratch with at first reluctant Preston teenagers.

In the final episode Freddie had to galvanise his new cricket team to take on an elite private school and what ensued was a finale full of laughs and tears.

Freddie watched the final episode with the boys themselves at Vernon-Carus Sports Club in Penwortham, which the team adopted as their own, alongside South Ribble councillors and other local residents.

Freddie tweeted: “Watched “field of dreams “ with the lads tonight they are amazing , Thanks for watching and supporting us”

Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff is one of the sport's leading all-rounders, a fast bowler, middle-order batsman, and slip fielder and hailed from Ribbleton in Preston.

He was consistently rated by the ICC as being among the top international all-rounders in both ODI and Test cricket.

Freddie was inspired to make the game of cricket more accessible, via the show, after realising two third of the English team for the recent Ashes series were privately educated.