Andrew Flintoff joins up with England squad for New Zealand ODI series

Andrew Flintoff was at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens on Friday as he joined up with the England squad for their one-day international series against New Zealand.

The former England captain, 45, was hospitalised last December after he suffered facial injuries in an accident while shooting for Top Gear at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey.

The all-rounder, who played in 79 Tests and 141 one-day matches for England, has kept a low profile since.

Freddie Flintoff watches England take on New ZealandFreddie Flintoff watches England take on New Zealand

Freddie Flintoff watches England take on New Zealand (Joe Giddens/PA).

But on Friday he was pictured in England coaching kit watching the opening ODI against New Zealand from the home team’s balcony.

It is believed to be the first time Flintoff has been photographed in public since suffering his injuries.

Flintoff is a close friend of England managing director Rob Key and is set to be with the squad for the remainder of the four-match series. The PA news agency understands the role is unpaid.

He is not due to be with the group for the upcoming World Cup in India.

England v New Zealand – First ODI – Sophia GardensEngland v New Zealand – First ODI – Sophia Gardens

Andrew Flintoff is pictured after the match in Cardiff (Joe Giddens/PA).

England captain Jos Buttler said it was “great” to have Flintoff around the squad and he had “settled in really well”.

Speaking after the hosts’ eight-wicket defeat, he said: “So he’s been starting to do some stuff in cricket.

“It’s just great for him to be around, he’s obviously an England legend and it’s just nice to have him around the group.

“He’s not been brought in with any specific role, just to be around and observe.

“A few of the lads can pick his brains a little bit and he’s settled in really well. It’s great to have him with us. Just for this series.”

The injuries from Flintoff’s Top Gear crash, which brought the filming of series 34 to a halt, appeared evident on his face.

A statement from BBC Studios earlier this year said it had “concluded its investigation into the accident at the Top Gear Test Track in Surrey last December, which regrettably injured presenter Freddie Flintoff”.

It continued: “We have sincerely apologised to Freddie and will continue to support him with his recovery. Under the circumstances, we feel it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34 of Top Gear at this time.

Andrew Flintoff sits next to England batting coach Marcus TrescothickAndrew Flintoff sits next to England batting coach Marcus Trescothick

Andrew Flintoff sits next to England batting coach Marcus Trescothick (Joe Giddens/PA).

“We understand this will be disappointing for fans, but it is the right thing to do, and we’ll make a judgement about how best to continue later this year. This has also impacted the production team, who we continue to support.”

Flintoff ended his international career in 2009 after helping England to an Ashes series victory over Australia before he retired from all forms of the game in 2015.

He went on to launch a career in broadcasting, including featuring on Sky’s ‘A League Of Their Own’ and BBC’s Top Gear.