By Andrew Atkinson
As a chess enthusiast Andrew Flintoff is always thinking ahead and the former England cricket skipper remains in the fast lane, debuting on the BBC’s Top Gear new series on June 2.
“I’ve always been passionate about cars,” fellow Prestonian Flintoff told me.
Flintoff, who started out at Lancashire Schools u11s-u15s, prior to captaining Lancashire and England, fronts the new series of Top Gear with Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris.
Following the departure of Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May in 2015, then replacements Chris Evans, Matt Le Blanc and Rory Reid, Flintoff finds himself in the driving seat.
“I’m so excited to be joining the Top Gear team,” said Ashes-winning star Flintoff.
Flintoff, MBE, and his wife Rachael, have three children, Holly, 14, Corey, 13, and Rocky, 11.
Flintoff’s sporting prowess includes that of turning boxer – with a record F1, W1 – when defeating American Richard Dawson over four rounds in 2012. Freddie’s guidance being under former champion Barry McGuigan.
Flintoff, given the Freedom of the City of Preston in 2006, honoured with the accolade of BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2005, played for Lancashire during 1995-2014.
Top international all rounder Flintoff, 41, made his England debut in 1998 against South Africa, culminating in his last Test against Australia in 2009, announcing his retirement after the Ashes series against arch rivals, the Aussies.
Wisden 2005 Leading Cricketer in the World, Flintoff was an integral player for England, and was England’s ‘Man of the Series’ during the successful 2005 Ashes.
Flintoff suffered injuries throughout his international career, and in 2009 underwent surgery to his knee.
Flintoff, who fully retired in 2010, donned his pads again when returning to play Twenty20 cricket for Lancashire in 2014; later joining the Australian Big Bash League for the 2014-15 season.
Since retirement, Flintoff won the first series of the Australian version of I’m a Celebrity-Get Me Out of Here!; is a member of Sky One’s sports-based comedy panel show A League of Their Own, and presenter of ITV game show Cannonball.
Flintoff, who has his own fashion range brand Jacamo, remains in Top Gear.
Flintoff, affectionately known as ‘Freddie’, who went to the pinnacle of his chosen profession, said: “It’s not often you have the chance to do both of your dream jobs – I’m lucky enough to say I have.”