mon 15/08/2022

Freddie Flintoff's Field of Dreams, BBC One review - Lancashire all-rounder adds new strings to his bow | reviews, news & interviews

Freddie Flintoff's Field of Dreams, BBC One review - Lancashire all-rounder adds new strings to his bow

Freddie Flintoff's Field of Dreams, BBC One review - Lancashire all-rounder adds new strings to his bow

A man on a mission to prove that cricket isn't posh and boring

Josh, Ben and Ethan with Freddie FlintoffCath Tudor

After the sensational reinvention of the England cricket team this summer, with their so-called “Bazball” technique, the second-best thing to have happened to the Summer Game is Freddie Flintoff’s new series.

Here, the former dynamic all-rounder and hero of the 2005 Ashes series goes back to his roots in Preston to try to convince the local kids that cricket could be a game for them. The voice-over makes sure to hammer the point home with a sledgehammer: “Cricket is the most elitist sport in Britain.”

The major obstacle is that if the local teens have even heard of cricket at all, they’ve dismissed it as a boring pastime for rich posh people. As one of Fred’s potential candidates pondered, with a baffled expression, “Why would you come round here and think anybody would want to play cricket?” They’d never seen cricket on TV (not least because it’s behind the Sky Sports paywall), and there was some grim satisfaction in learning that they’d never heard of The Hundred, the short-game gimmick for people who find T20 too taxing. They hadn’t heard of Flintoff either, even as a presenter of Cannonball or Top Gear. One of the lads Googled him: “Freddie Flintoff MBE... what’s an MBE?”. (Pictured below, Finley, Ammar and Dylan)

Freddie Flintoff's Field of Dreams, BBC OneIt was going to be an uphill struggle, and the posters Flintoff pinned up around the neighbourhood saying “Think cricket is posh & boring? Think again” had a tincture of desperation about them. But Flintoff, an emphatically not-posh Lancastrian, is proving to be a skilful motivator, able to combine common sense and a sympathetic manner with a dose of confrontational bluntness when required. As one of his coaching assistants, former Lancashire teammate Kyle Hogg, remarks of their raw recruits, “there are a couple who test you to the absolute maximum.” It’s part of the show’s game-plan to throw in some social observation and real-life stories of struggle against the odds, and the tale of how Flintoff gradually pulls his initially reluctant band of young scruffs into something resembling a team can only be described as heartwarming.

It needed a few stand-out characters if it was going to work, and it’s found them. There’s Sean, a very bright but troubled 15-year-old who’s guaranteed to do something stupid and anti-social just when it looks like he’s turned over a new leaf. There’s Ethan, a painfully shy boy now in a Special Needs school after suffering bullying, but showing instinctive aptitude as a batsman. There’s 18-year-old Ben, whose story of how he spent some of his teens living rough on the streets rendered Flintoff speechless.Freddie Flintoff's Field of Dreams, BBC OneBut they’ve now found the team’s secret weapon, with an amazing back story to match. It’s Adnan, a 16-year-old from Afghanistan who reached Britain by hitching his way across Europe, then hiding in a truck to cross the Channel, eventually ending up in Preston where he turned himself in to the police. Now adopted by a local couple, he turned up at one of Flintoff’s net sessions and revealed himself as an intimidating fast bowler and a stylish, destructive batsman. A bit of an Afghan Flintoff, in fact.

Meanwhile, Freddie is demonstrating that he is indeed a true all-rounder. Having found the makings of a team, he’s now trying to build them a permanent home. This means blagging a pile of cash from South Ribble Council to renovate the derelict and dismal Vernon’s cricket ground. To get the ball rolling, Flintoff gallantly lobbed £25K of his own into the pot, and pledged to raise as much again. “If you build it, they will come,” he reasoned.

Comments

As an ex-pat / ex-Lancashire lad presently in Nova Scotia it was great to watch how Freddy & Kyle have put a team together from a group of lads who have been through some very difficult times, they rose to Freddie's call like a Pheonix from the ashes. Good Luck to all of them !!! Canada Bob.

Nicely put, Bob.

Shame Adnan risks ending up playing for Rwanda’s First XI, given this despicable morally and economically bankrupt government’s policies and two wannabes in a race to the bottom in dog whistle politicking. And bravo to Freddie for picking up Marcus’s baton from last summer…all the best to Vernon ‘s… and good luck to all team Freddie.

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