DUBAI // Andrew Flintoff will help coach the UAE national team as he continues his recovery from knee surgery. The England all-rounder will use Dubai Sports City (DSC) as the base for his rehabilitation, and in return will help teach the country's best cricketers. Flintoff's agent, Andrew Chandler, said the double Ashes winner was eager to contribute to the development of cricket in the country while he was based in Dubai.
"A partnership has been agreed with Dubai Sports City to use their gym and facilities as a base for his rehabilitation," he said. "I believe he will be one of the first people to use them. In return he will be carrying out some coaching for the UAE national team over the next six months." The agreement, which is a working relationship rather than a formal deal, will see Flintoff pass on some coaching tips to the national team, who have also been invited to use DSC as their training base.
The side, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2011 World Cup, now have a coach in Englishman Colin Wells, who Flintoff will assist on an informal and occasional basis. The deal is also intended to raise the profile of Flintoff's own cricket academy which he is planning to start in Dubai since last year but has not yet found an ideal site for it. "There has been good growth in UAE cricket in the last few years and Andrew felt that he wanted to give something back," Chandler added.
"It seemed the logical thing to do while he was based there. His partnership with Sports City will also help raise the profile of his Dubai academy." The partnership represents a significant coup for DSC, who have developed world-class academies to attract leading teams and personalities across sport disciplines. Malcolm Thorpe, managing director of the sports business division, said that Flintoff's relationship with DSC goes back to his first visit three years ago.
"Andrew is an old friend of Sports City having attended the opening of the Els Club. We expect to see a lot more of him now that he is based here and I'm sure he will benefit greatly from the facilities we have here. We are very pleased that we have an association with a sportsman of his calibre," he said. Flintoff, 31, has struggled with a knee injury for several years and opted to retire from Test cricket after the Ashes ended last month in order to prolong his career in the shorter formats of the game. He had surgery three weeks ago and moved to Dubai last week.
Flintoff has been advised that the warm weather will help him recover faster in time for the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) in March next year. "His children have already started at a local school. He has rented a temporary apartment near the Marina but will be looking for something more permanent over the next few weeks," said Chandler. Flintoff this week became the first England player to turn down a central contract.
Chandler said Flintoff remained committed to representing England but admitted he had been offered short-term contracts for Twenty20 leagues around the world. "He has turned down an England contract but this won't make much difference as he has said he will make himself available for one-day games," he said. "He is aiming to play a role in the one-day leg of the Bangladesh tour. He remains committed to Lancashire and in addition to the IPL, he has been offered contracts for T20 tournaments elsewhere in the world."