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BBC Top Gear crisis: brave Freddie Flintoff smiles as he plays cricket after a 'incognito' return to the back offices

BRAVE Freddie Flintoff beams as he plays cricket today after it emerged he watched the Ashes “incognito” in a back office.

The former cricketer has rarely been seen in public since he narrowly escaped death in a 130mph smash while filming Top Gear.

Freddie Flintoff was pictured today at the Oval following his Top Gear smash

He took part in net sessions at the infamous cricket ground

But brave Freddie was pictured for the first time after the horror last week as he helped coach the England team in Cardiff in their match against New Zealand.

The athlete appeared in good spirits as he joked with the team but there was still evidence of his horror injuries under his England Cricket bucket hat.

Freddie has now also been snapped today at the Kia Oval in London taking part in net sessions.

His trademark smile as he helped Jofra Archer practice bowling is a world away from Freddie’s summer as he shielded from the public eye.

TalkTV host Piers Morgan told how the cricketer watched England’s performance in secret during the Ashes in Australia.

Speaking on talkSport, he added: “I’d heard from various people that through the Ashes series that he was turning up as a guest of Rob Key, who runs England cricket now and is one of his great mates, but they were very incognito and watching it in back offices on TV.

“A very small number of people went to see him.

“I was encouraged, but he’s still got a lot of scarring on his face and signs of injury nine months after the crash.

“I know he’s had a lot of mental health issues because of it, as you would expect because it was a horrendous crash that nearly killed him.”

It comes amid fears at the BBC that his crash could spell the end for Top Gear, which is one of the broadcaster’s top money spinners.

The show has remained on ice since Freddie’s crash, with no confirmation on whether the host will return.

Freddie suffered horror injuries to his jaw and broken ribs in the near-fatal smash in December.

He was airlifted to hospital after the roofless high-speed, three-wheel car he was driving flipped and slid along a track.

Piers revealed how he believes his pal is in a “better place” now nine months on from the smash as he slowly returns to public life.

Out For A Duck columnist added: “Freddie is gingerly putting himself back into the game and it’s brilliant to see him laughing and joking and interacting with the public again. I think he needs that.

“I’ve known him for a long time. He’s a good friend of mine and we were really worried about him because the reports of how bad the crash was were that it was real life and death and he was lucky to survive.

“I’m so chuffed for him and actually got a message from him yesterday. He’s not really been interacting with anybody as he’s been trying to get himself back on track.

“Now he’s in a better place and I’m really pleased about that.”

Freddie made his heroic return to the public eye last Friday as he joined coaching staff at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens for the one-day international series against New Zealand.

The 2005 Ashes legend today made his second appearance as he beamed while wearing an England training kit.

Freddie will now return to screens in winter for the second season of his cricket series Field of Dreams.

Today’s appearance is Freddie’s second in less than week

He was also snapped last week as his injuries were seen for the first time

It comes amid fears the crash could spell the end for Top Gear

Freddie has not confirmed if he will return to the show