Freddie Flintoff shares a laugh with England's cricketers ahead of ODI

Freddie Flintoff shares a laugh with England’s cricketers as facial injuries from his Top Gear crash continue to heal while he works with the team for their ODI match against New Zealand

  • The former star all-rounder cut a relaxed figure at The Oval on Wednesday
  • Flintoff has returned to cricket after his horror crash on Top Gear 
  • The 45-year-old cheated death after a horrendous crash in December last year 

Freddie Flintoff was all smiles as he oversaw a warm-up session ahead of England’s third ODI against New Zealand.

The England cricket legend was spotted in public for the first time on Saturday following a near-fatal car crash while filming the BBC’s Top Gear show in December 2022.

Flintoff made his first appearance since the accident this week as he returned to working with the England cricket team with cuts noticeable on his nose and mouth. 

The 45-year-old joined Jos Buttler’s side as a consultant during their one-day series against New Zealand and was pictured on the field at The Oval as England players went through their warm-up routine on Wednesday.

Flintoff’s facial injuries appeared to be visibly better in pictures released today, in comparison to those which were taken on Saturday.  

Freddie Flintoff oversaw a warm-up session ahead of England’s third ODI against New Zealand 

Flintoff’s facial injuries from his Top Gear crash have appeared to improve (right) from when he was first pictured back in the public spotlight since the accident on Saturday (left) 

Though his scars are still noticeable, they are not as visibly prominent as when he made his public return.    

Riccardo Frati, a London based surgeon with ‘extensive experience in post trauma injuries’ told the Daily Star that crashes like the one Flintoff had ‘usually come with a high rate of mortality. 

He said: ‘Multiple superficial or deep wound injuries involving the skin and soft tissue at different layers could have been caused by this type of car crash trauma at such high speed. 

‘Deeper structures like facial nerves branches can be temporary or permanently injured and as a result of it, partial or extensive facial paresis can develop.

Frati, after Flintoff was first pictured back with the England camp, said: ‘The right side of his lower face seems to be drooping due to a partial facial nerve injury affecting the various facial muscles responsible for the lower lip and facial muscle expressions. It is possible to be permanent but it will take a long time to recover.’

The former all-rounder, who played the last of his 79 Tests in 2009, was on the pitch talking to some of the players and former Sky commentator Kumar Sangakkara.

Wearing a baseball mitt to act as a makeshift wicketkeeper, Flintoff cut a relaxed figure as he chatted with the players ahead of the third of four ODI against the Kiwis. 

One of the great all-rounders of the English game and the hero of the 2005 Ashes triumph, Flintoff played 141 ODIs before retiring after England won the urn in 2009.

Flintoff was spotted chatting to former Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara

‘It’s important for him, and it’s great for the lads to have him around,’ Paul Collingwood, England’s assistant Test coach, said on Tuesday

‘The knowledge he’s got playing the game and pressure situations – he pretty much encapsulated how this white-ball team goes about their cricket. It’s all about putting the opposition under pressure, which is exactly what he did.

Flintoff suffered a near-fatal car crash last December while shooting an episode of BBC motoring series Top Gear at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome in Surrey.

He was left with severe facial wounds and several broken ribs after his three-wheeled open-top car, which did not have air bags, flipped while filming the hit BBC motoring show on December 13. 

Flintoff then had to wait an ‘agonising’ 45 minutes for an air ambulance – with the BBC later giving him an apology.

The father-of-four – who also narrowly cheated death following a 125mph crash in 2019 – quit his Top Gear job after the accident and the BBC cancelled the latest series of the show – with its future remaining in doubt. 

Several members of staff who witnessed the accident signed off sick indefinitely as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The BBC said it would continue to support Flintoff ‘with his recovery’, adding: ‘Under the circumstances, we feel it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34 of Top Gear at this time.

The legendary all-rounder has returned to cricket after miraculously surviving an horrendous crash while filming the TV series Top Gear in December last year

The serious facial injuries Flintoff suffered in the crash are still very visible on his face

‘We understand this will be disappointing for fans, but it is the right thing to do, and we’ll make a judgment about how best to continue later this year.

‘This has also impacted the production team, who we continue to support.

‘Finally there will be a health and safety review of the show, in line with our procedures.’

The latest news around his recovery comes after his ex-England team-mate Steve Harmison revealed he had seen him just six weeks ago when Flintoff was still covering up his face due to the severity of the injuries.

Flintoff was seen for the first time since the crash last week when he returned to working with the England cricket team at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton

Flintoff’s family (pictured with his wife Rachael and three of their four children) reportedly begged him to stay away from the set while he was recovering from his injuries 

‘It was great to see him back,’ he said on talkSPORT.

‘He was on great form, but to see him around the England group, the main team, was fantastic. 

This England team are a good bunch and not only are they great cricketers, but they’re great ambassadors.

‘Freddie was always brilliant in the dressing room and so to have Andrew in the dressing room with them and feeling comfortable and letting him get his feet under the table because they’ll be in for a show.’

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