Cricket fans have sent messages of support to Freddie Flintoff after the England legend was pictured for the first time since his Top Gear crash.
Flintoff was spotted watching England’s one-day international series opener against New Zealand at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens on Friday, and also took part in some training drills with the squad.
It was his first public appearance since his near-fatal accident last December.
The 45-year-old former England cricket captain was hospitalised after an accident on the Top Gear track while he was filming for the BBC motoring show.
It is reported he was driving an open-topped three-wheel Morgan Super 3 car when it flipped and slid along the track while driving at around 130mph.
He and a member of the Top Gear crew were both wearing helmets, but Flintoff suffered facial injuries and several broken ribs.
Details of the incident and Flintoff’s injuries have been kept under wraps with the cricket legend – who has left his role with Top Gear – keeping a low profile ever since, with his 16-year-old son Corey saying at the time that his father was ‘lucky to be alive’.
But on Friday he was pictured in England coaching kit watching the opening ODI against New Zealand from the home team’s balcony.
Many fans were left shocked by his appearance nine months after the crash, with Flintoff still sporting large cuts on his face and surgical tape on his nose.
But all were united in their happiness of seeing the England icon back in public and back on the cricket pitch.
A social media post from England’s cricket supporters club, The Barmy Army, read: “Freddie’s back! We’re sure we speak on behalf of the cricketing world in saying how amazing it was to see Flintoff in Cardiff yesterday around the team after his accident.”
Piers Morgan also reacted to the scenes, writing on Twitter: “Brilliant to see Freddie Flintoff back with the England team today, after that horrendous Top Gear car smash.”
One fan wrote: “Was great to see him in the outfield giving the warm ups. I hope he realises how loved he is… and that also there’s no pressure for any other public engagement until he is ready.”
Another added: “Wonderful to see him after so long. I have genuinely worried about him. He looks well, I hope he is.”
England captain Jos Buttler also said it was “great” to have Flintoff around the squad and that he had “settled in really well” with the team.
Flintoff is a close friend of England managing director Rob Key and is set to be with the squad for the remainder of the four-match series, but he is not due to be with the group for the upcoming World Cup in India.
Speaking after the game, an eight-wicket defeat for the hosts, Buttler said: “So he’s been starting to do some stuff in cricket.
“It’s just great for him to be around, he’s obviously an England legend and it’s just nice to have him around the group.
“He’s not been brought in with any specific role, just to be around and observe.
“A few of the lads can pick his brains a little bit and he’s settled in really well. It’s great to have him with us. Just for this series.”