x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Flintoff comes under fire in Afghanistan

The England cricketer and the football legend Gary Lineker were forced to dive for cover when Taliban insurgents attacked a British military base in Afghanistan.

The England cricketer Andrew Flintoff and the football legend Gary Lineker dived for cover when Taliban insurgents attacked a British military base in Afghanistan, they were quoted as saying. The sport stars were at Kandahar airbase to hand out Pride of Britain awards for the Daily Mirror when they got a taste of incoming rocket fire at Kandahar airbase, they told the London newspaper. "I thought it was a windup but then I saw everyone dive to the floor. It was scary," said Flintoff, 31.

On crutches following knee surgery, the Lancashire all-rounder had to join service personnel in scrambling for cover under the dining room tables. "I've seen things over the past few days that will live with me forever," Flintoff, the former England captain, said. "It's been humbling and has put my life into perspective. I play cricket for my country ? but then you come here and meet people of 18 fighting for their country."

After the rocket attack alarm was sounded, the all clear was given 30 seconds later. Lineker, a former Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham striker, had a second scare when a military plane he was travelling in lost one of its four engines and had to return to base. "I expected it to be tough but I didn't expect the environment I've discovered," said Lineker, 48, another former England captain. "The other thing that strikes you is the age of some of them on the front line. I've a son who's just turned 18 and the fact there are kids out there the same age as him really makes you think."

Britain has more than 9,150 troops in Afghanistan, largely battling Taliban insurgents in southern Helmand province. * AFP