sport

Two wickets for Fred on return

Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff took two wickets on his return to competitive cricket as Lancashire beat Worcestershire by 50 runs to move top of the NatWest T20 Blast North Division.

Flintoff, 36, was listed to bat at number eight and was not required as his side piled up 229-4 at New Road. Ashwell Prince top-scored with 68 while the main aggressors were Jos Buttler, with 55 off 28 balls, and Steven Croft with 29 from 11.

Croft removed Pears openers Daryl Mitchell (46) and Richard Oliver (44) after a 90-run stand and Flintoff, having seen his first and second overs disappear for 21 runs, recovered to post figures of 2-36 in his four overs as the hosts reached 179-7.

Flintoff conceded 15 runs in his first over, but came back with a wicket in each of two later spells for an overall return of 4-0-36-2, almost mirroring his figures of 2-32 against Derbyshire in his last match beforeretirement.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, his pace was down on his glory years and it would have been a jolt to be cut for four and pulled for six from his first two balls by former Shropshire captain Richard Oliver.

The Rapids were putting up a fight at that stage with Oliver (44) and skipper Daryl Mitchell (46) smashing 90 in the first nine overs but they were gone, both falling to Steven Croft's off-spin, before Flintoff was called on again for the13th over.

Again he was given a rough reception, with Tom Kohler-Cadmore pulling his first ball for six, but the former Malvern College batsman was bowled attempting to drive the fourth.

When Flintoff came back for the 17th over, he had Alexei Kervezee comfortably caught at long-on and the Rapids were ultimately pegged back to 179-7.

Prince, Lancashire's top scorer, was happy to see Andrew Flintoff back and doing what he does best - taking wickets and entertaining the crowd.

The South African opener said: "It's good to have the big man back.

"Obviously he's always a crowd favourite and I think he will be happy with his performance today, getting a few wickets as well. He must have been a bit nervous starting but he dragged it back nicely towards the end.

"He is an experienced player and I think he will only get better as the competition goes on. He's a character, the game needs characters, and to have him in the dressing room is happy days."

Elsewhere in the North Division, Leicestershire recorded only their third win of the season and inflicted Derbyshire's eighth loss in 10 games.

Derbyshire made 143 after a remarkable end to their innings. Charlie Shreck began the final over but was removed from the attack for bowling his second beamer of the innings. Anthony Ireland took over for the remaining five balls - and took three wickets, completing figures of 5-22, before Mark Turner was run out from the last ball.

Wes Durston's brilliant 89 was a lone effort, with Marcus North's 20 the only other score in double figures, and it was not enough as Greg Smith made 65 not out to guide Leicestershire home with four balls to spare.