HE’S the former England cricket captain best known for his ability as an all-rounder.

But Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, who retired from cricket in 2010, is swapping the pitch for the stage as he makes his theatrical debut.

Freddie will join an all star cast to tread the boards in the world premiere of Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends – The Musical, which visits Mayflower Theatre next spring.

He will play Kevin Mergatroyd opposite the previously announced Jodie Prenger as his fiancée, Kelly on the UK tour, which stops in Southampton from February 5 to 10.

One of the world’s most recognised cricket stars, Flintoff won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in 2005 after playing a pivotal role in regaining the Ashes from Australia. Since the Lancashire lad’s cricket career ended, he has become a much loved presenter and broadcaster. Appearing as a captain on Sky’s A League of Their Own, he was also crowned King of the Jungle in the first Australian version of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!

Having just filmed a part in a new Mellor ITV series, this role will see Freddie continue to affirm his acting credentials after bowling over the show’s creator and composer Nicholas Lloyd Webber during auditions.

Freddie Flintoff told the Daily Echo: “I am really excited. I loved the TV series and think Fat Friends – The Musical is going to give people a great night out. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Mellor added: “I was introduced to Freddie at one of our TV casting sessions – it was clear to me that he could leave his cricket bat behind, embody a character, and understand the drama. It was a no-brainer… he got the part. Then, as we were talking through Fat Friends – The Musical, I wondered if Freddie could sing. I was ecstatic when his voice was perfect for the role.”

The award winning TV drama has been adapted for the stage by its creator and one of the UK’s most prolific writers, Mellor, whose extensive television credits include hit series of Band of Gold, The Chase, The Syndicate and In The Club.

Tickets: 023 8071 1811 or mayflower.org.uk