Marcus Trescothick: Involvement with England has helped Andrew Flintoff ‘grow back into Freddie’

Marcus Trescothick says he has been buoyed seeing Andrew Flintoff “grow back into Freddie” during his stint with the limited-overs squad, and hopes to see more of his former England team-mate in a coaching capacity in the future.

Flintoff has proven popular in his role with England’s back-room staffECB via Getty Images

“Seeing him grow back into Freddie and getting back into the cricket…obviously he’s been away from cricket for a long period of time. But this is where it all starts and where it belongs for him. The guys have really taken to him.’

“He’s been brilliant. A couple of times he’s spoken in the changing-room it’s been like, ‘wow’. You can see the difference, and I’ve seen the progression of him as a character; the way he talks and delivers messages to players has been superb. To have him sprinkling a bit of gold dust around the team and having the younger players working with that has been invaluable, really. You can’t put a price on it.”

It was during the first ODI against New Zealand at Cardiff that Flintoff was first spotted as part of the staff. This happened to be his first public appearance since he had been left with facial scars following a crash at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome while shooting an episode for Top Gear‘s 34th series.

As a legend of English cricket, and a key personality in the lineage of talismanic allrounders now carried forward by Stokes, Trescothick was particularly enamoured with how Flintoff has grown into his role. While he has been around the game recently, having worked with England’s Under-19s and frequent visits to Emirates Old Trafford given his sons Corey (17) and Rocky (14) are part of Lancashire’s age-group sides, he was understandably wary ahead of this opportunity with the national team.

“I think he was a little bit nervous coming into the environment,” Trescothick said. “He doesn’t know many of the people so, from where he was coming in first at Cardiff to where he is now, he’s grown massively.

“He’s back into the person you expect to be around cricket because that’s what I’ve seen for so many years and it’s been great, really good. He’s really enjoyed the opportunity and the team have taken to him being around. Hopefully, we’ll see more of him in the future.”

Trescothick, like Flintoff, knows all about cricket’s ability to aid recovery. His mental-health struggles, especially when on tour, meant his international career ended in 2006, at the age of 30. With the help of those within the game, Trescothick has begun to take on more overseas trips in retirement. He returned to Pakistan for England’s Test tour last winter for the first time since 2005, a series which he believes triggered his depression, and he will be assisting England at the upcoming World Cup in India.

“You become more comfortable, don’t you?” Trescothick said, recognising how cricket had helped Flintoff as it had helped him. “This is what we know, this is what we’ve grown up with for so many years. Once you come to your comfortable environment, you know what goes on and you understand the place, people have respect for what he has done and enjoy seeing him improving.

“That’s really good from our point of view. If we as players and squads and cricket in general keep doing that for people who have fallen on tougher times, then great, we’re doing something right.”

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo