Freddie: T20 Blast good for cricket

The former test international was at Edgbaston for the launch of the Blast campaign, which starts next month, and said the success of T20 cricket around the world in other events such as the IPL and Big Bash showed how important the form of the game is.

He said: ???I think you have seen the success of T20 cricket around the world and the appetite for it in England is no different.

???Last year I went to watch Lancashire v Yorkshire with 25,000 people. I was fortunate enough to play in Finals Day at Edgbaston which was a terrific night, even though we lost.

???I think with the NatWest Blast you find a new audience – it???s a real nice introduction to cricket for kids to come and watch. You bring your family, it only lasts three hours so hopefully playing on a Friday night this year we???re going to get the crowds and with some of the overseas signings and the English players there is a lot to be excited about.

???I think it is a massive stepping stone for English cricket. Traditionally, you used to play the long form of the game as a youngster and then you learn how to play the short form.

???I honestly believe now that kids are starting to play T20 cricket first and then adapting the game the other way round so I think the knock on effect of T20 cricket is making test cricket faster, it???s making one day international cricket better. So I think the NatWest Blast, for the development of English cricket, is massive.???

Although unsure if he is going to appear at the tournament himself, Flintoff believes Kevin Pietersen will be a ???massive asset??? for Surrey at the Blast but said he needed to carry on making runs if he was to appear for England again.

He said: ???Kevin is a seasoned campaigner in T20 cricket ??? he???s been around the world. You saw how he played this year in Australia and he???s getting somewhere back to his best. He???s going to be a massive asset for Surrey in the NatWest Blast.

???We hear that he wants to play test cricket again but he???s going to have to state his case. You can???t just walk into a side, there are lads, especially in the batting order, in possession of places and performing so I think Kevin is under no illusions that if he wants to get back in the England side he???s going to have to perform and stack the runs up.

???He started well this week against the students and got 170 but once the County Championship starts the only way he???s going to get back in is through weight of runs.???

The former England captain also defended Alastair Cook who has come in for criticism after being out for 13 in the side???s second innings against the West Indies.

Flintoff called on former players and fans to show the current skipper more backing.

???I get fed up with people having a go at Alastair Cook,??? he said. ???I was captain when he came into the side and I got a lot of things wrong as England captain but the one thing I got right was picking Alastair Cook. He???s one of England???s finest ever players.

???He???s scored more runs than anyone else, he???s scored more hundreds than anyone else, he???s led the team well in the past and it is inevitable that if you have a career spanning over 100 test matches there are going to be blips along the way. But Alastair, knowing the lad he is, the strength of character, the quality he has as a player he???ll get through this.

???And I???d like to see people outside the England team backing the lad. He???s representing not just the England team, but he???s representing all the players who have played before him, he???s representing the crowd and the fans and it???s nice sometimes when you just get a bit of loving from people and that???s the only thing missing with Alastair at the minute.???

On the ECB???s search for a director of cricket, Flintoff said Andrew Strauss and Michael Vaughan would be suitable candidates and also threw in Darren Gough???s name for good measure.

However, he insisted that the players would be solely focussed on performing on the pitch as opposed to what was happening at boardroom level.

Flintoff said: ???The job has been advertised ??? I don???t think I???ll be sending my CV in. As a team you???re just wrapped up in performing. All these things have no effect on the team as a whole.

???I know Peter Moores and I played under him for England and Lancashire. He is fantastic; Peter Moores just wants the best for his players. He is a selfless man who just wants the England team to perform. I think Peter needs time and then the things at board level within the ECB will sort themselves out.

???I???m sure there are plenty of great candidates for that job but the players will just be concentrating on beating the West Indies, then New Zealand and then what is going to be an amazing summer against Australia.

???There are names being bandied around. Strauss would make a great chief executive of anything, Straussy; he???s just a great man, isn???t he?

???I loved playing with him as a player, loved him as a captain. I???m not quite sure what the job entails but Straussy would be good at any job.

???And Michael Vaughan – as a captain he turned England around, he took us from an average team to a half decent team so I???m sure those two guys have got all the credentials. I like Goughy as well; I???m sure Goughy would be interested ??? give him a go.???