Wigan starlet Adnan wins Freddie Flintoff's heart - and a Lancashire spot!

A Wigan Cricket Club starlet has bowled over Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff to become a primetime television star - and win a place in the Lancashire junior set-up.

By Paul Kendrick
Tuesday, 19th July 2022, 9:59 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 2:30 pm

Sixteen-year-old Adnan Miekhal, originally from Afghanistan, caught the eye of Flintoff during filming for his 'Field of Dreams' programme on the BBC.

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In it, the Lancashire and England legend was charged with creating a cricket team from scratch with reluctant teenagers from his hometown of Preston.

Freddie Flintoff's Field of Dreams is available on the iPlayer

He was visibly taken aback when meeting young Adnan - along with his foster parents Barry and Elaine - and hearing about his quite remarkable back story.

"Adnan came to us in March (2021), and couldn't speak a word of English," explained Elaine.

"What happened was he came in the back of a lorry, made his way across from Afghanistan, down through Greece, across in a boat to Italy, and then he walked, went in lorries and cars, right up into France, with a group of other people, to Calais.

"He had no money, couldn't get on a boat to come across, so he went on his own in an empty lorry. He found himself in Preston, cut his way out, and handed himself in to the police station."

Adnan (far left) with team-mates Harvey, Matthew and Harry (Pic: BBC)

All alone in a strange new world, Adnan's hidden talent soon came to the fore.

"He kind of just sat here for two hours watching television," continued Elaine. "Then one day, Barry said: 'Football?' And he went: 'No, no football.'

"So Barry went: 'Cricket?' And he went: 'Cricket! Cricket!'

"Barry has a driving net up in the back garden for his golf. I went out and Adnan was bowling a golf ball into the net.

"Now I know very little about cricket, but I thought this boy must have had some coaching.

"When you ask him, though, he says nobody has ever taught him how to play, he just played in the yard, and that was how he learned to bowl properly."

The programme showed Flintoff's look of pure astonishment when he saw Adnan bowl at breakneck speed, before showing equal force with bat in hand.

"I think we've found a player here, he's bowled one ball and I jumped out the way!" laughed the 44-year-old. "Talk about unearthing a player, I think we might have done one here.

"Doesn't happen very often that I've been thrown. I'm shocked.

"This is my first experience with someone who I've known is seeking asylum, and it's a 16-year-old lad called Adnan who is amazing.

"He's gone through so much to get here. He's nice, he's polite, he's very talented at cricket and he deserves every bit of help he can possibly get."

Adnan himself admits he is living the dream in his new world.

"When I came there in Preston, I was really scared at that time, just sitting in my bedroom," he said. "I was very quiet, I couldn't speak a word of English, everything was new for me at that time.

"Cricket for me is like everything for me, like the emotions.

"When somebody says to me: 'What's your favourite hobby? I say: 'Cricket.

"And: 'What do you want to do in future?' It's cricket. Everything is cricket, cricket, cricket."

Adnan's rise to fame has been particularly felt in Wigan, with the town's cricket club tweeting their pride at his achievements.

"We’re extremely proud to have Adnan as a member of Wigan CC," read a tweet.

"He is a vital member of the squad and is definitely a star in the making!

"Barry and Elaine are also amazing people. We are lucky to have all three of them around the cricket club."

The third and final episode was screened on Tuesday night, with Adnan having the double nerves of preparing for a big game as well as a meeting with the authorities in Liverpool to determine if he can remain in the UK long-term.

He was also shown round Flintoff's former home ground of Old Trafford, with some words of encouragement from his coach and mentor.

"Adnan's got a chance," said Flintoff. "He's got natural ability, despite having limited exposure to cricket.

"So for him to be so good is a miracle.

"I hope by coming here today, it shows him what is possible."

As the closing credits rolled, there was some cautiously good news on all fronts.

"Adnan's been given permission by the home office to train with the Under-16s at Lancashire. But he is still waiting to hear if he can stay in the country permanently."

All episodes of 'Freddie Flintoff's Field of Dreams' are available on the BBC iPlayer.