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Page last updated at 17:41 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 18:41 UK

Flintoff helps put Lancs on top

Durham v Lancashire

11-14 June (1100-1800 BST)
CLOSE OF PLAY, DAY ONE: Durham 212-8 (Durham 1pt, Lancs 2pts)

Andrew Flintoff celebrates
Flintoff (centre) celebrates the wicket of Michael Di Venuto

England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff celebrated his return to action with two wickets as Lancashire bossed day one of their clash with Durham.

Flintoff, fit again after a knee injury, had Michael Di Venuto caught behind with only his second ball.

And he later removed Mitch Claydon on his way to figures of 2-30 in 12 overs.

Glenn Chapple also took three wickets as Durham were restricted to 212-8 at the Riverside, Mark Stoneman making 45 and Phil Mustard an unbeaten 31.

But it was Flintoff who inevitably took centre stage on his shock return and looked fit and fiery as the Durham batsman were made to hop around.

And he ensured he stayed in the thick of the action by also claiming two wickets at slip as Lancashire made the most of opting to bowl first.

Neil Desperandum

It looked the wrong decision as Durham reached 84-1 just before lunch, but thanks to Flintoff, Chapple (3-45) and Sajid Mahmood (2-62) they lost seven wickets for 117.

It was Flintoff who made the day's initial breakthrough when he enticed Di Venuto half forward and found the edge.

But the turning point came just before lunch when Oliver Newby had Will Smith caught behind and Mahmood had Stoneman caught by Flintoff in the following over.

Gordan Muchall slapped a Mahmood long hop straight to Francois du Plessis at cover before Chapple got to work, removing Ian Blackwell, Dale Benkenstien and Callum Thorp.

Flintoff added the wicket of Claydon before bad light brought a premature end to the day.

Reaction from BBC Newcastle's cricket reporter Martin Emmerson:

The national newspaper writers were here in force, all of them to see the return of Freddie Flintoff from injury.

And with just a month to go to the start of the Ashes he did not let them down, getting a wicket with his second delivery of the day as Michael Di Venuto went for 16, caught behind.

Durham recovered but following the loss of Will Smith for 11 and Mark Stoneman for 45 Durham lost their way. Both went just before lunch, two balls apart, as the home side slipped from 84-1 to 84-3 .

Gordon Muchall (18), Ian Blackwell (20) and Dale Benkenstein (26) all failed to deliver on the starts they had made as Glenn Chapple cashed in during a period in which he took three quick wickets.

Andrew Flintoff told BBC Radio Lancashire:

"The rehab has gone so well and it's great to be back in the dressing room. The coach and the captain are buoyant and the team are responding to that - I've had a really good day.

"I am physically fit but am probably not cricket fit and the only way I can do that is to get overs under my belt and get some form.

"Playing for Lancashire is not a fitness test for me, I'm trying to help these lads achieve something special this year and there's pressure to perform after the way they've started the season."

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