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Can Lancashire end the long wait for success?

April 9, 2010

Lancashire’s bid to capture their first Championship title since 1934 has already hit the rocks. On the eve of the new county season, top spin bowler Gary Keedy went over trying to cut off a boundary in a friendly against current champions Durham. He fractured his collarbone and will be certainly missing from the XI that starts the season next week at home to Warwickshire, and probably from those that are named for several weeks afterwards.

On the face of it the injury may not prove crucial – Lancashire have a wealth of attacking options, including new signing Daren Powell, the West Indian paceman. James Anderson may well make an appearance or two at the start of the year, as he did last year when the club made a great start to the season away at Sussex. Things, as so often for the Red Rose, went downhill from there as Durham eased their way to a second successive title.

But Lancashire have failed to produce a top county spinner apart from Keedy in the last few years. Simon Kerrigan is yet to make an appearance for the first XI though will likely get a chance soon while Keedy’s collarbone heals. More promising perhaps is Stephen Parry, who launched himself into the collective consciousness with a stunning catch in the Twenty20 match against Nottinghamshire last year. His one-day bowling performances have been impressive (ten Twenty20 wickets at just over 22) and he too may be given the chance in the four-day game.

Lancashire’s problem in recent years has not been their bowling. Sajid Mahmood, Kyle Hogg and most importantly Glen Chapple lead the line well and along with regular contributions from Keedy regularly dismissed teams for less than 300 last season. Their colleagues, however, failed to surpass those totals equally regularly. This has been addressed with the re-signing of Ashwell Prince who played well last season and recruiting Stephen Moore from Worcestershire, who is likely to open the batting with Mark Chilton – the veteran former captain who has moved up and down the order like a particularly energetic yo-yo in recent years.

When it comes down to it, Lancashire draw far too many games – many matches are lost to the weather, others to loss of nerve and a failure to turn up the pressure on weakened opponents. Four wins from 16 last time out sounds poor, but there were only two losses.

Artist's impression of the proposed changes to Old Trafford

Whether Lancashire can mount a serious challenge remains to be seen: Durham boast a very strong team (unbeaten in the four-day game last season) that could well lead to a hat-trick of titles for Britain’s newest first-class county and there will likely be strong competition from one or two others. Nottinghamshire and Somerset had good years last time – the latter in particular continue to improve in the long form of the game.

Things are looking up for Lancashire off the pitch though. The magnificent – if incongruous –  new media centre dominates the ground now and further developments have recently been given the go-ahead by the council as the county look to regain test status in time for the Ashes series in 2013. The decision came after a well-organised online campaign.

Whether they can turn the off-field optimism into silverware in the cabinet is another matter. A series of one-day titles in the 90s were gratifying, several good runs in the Twenty20 Cup this decade less so, but the Championship is the one everyone wants. A first title in 76 years is on the agenda, if only before the season starts. Turning draws into wins will be the key.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter Lawrence permalink
    April 9, 2010 11:26 am

    Good article, well written as ever.

    I think Lancs have a decent chance, Moore in particular is a very good signing. I still think the batting is a little frail though- didn’t you lose Du Plessis because of work permit problems?

    At the end of the day Lancs are a lot like Spurs- there’s no reason they can’t do well; they may even be up there by the last few rounds- but you just know they’re going to bottle it somewhere.

    One key issue that could swing things your way is Flintoff. I wouldn’t be betting my house on him making even one appearance this year, but if he did manage to play three or four county games it could change everything.

    • Ben Winstanley permalink
      April 10, 2010 9:52 am

      True. I didn’t include him as he hasn’t played a county game for a while and he may be happy to swan in and out from Dubai to play the odd one-dayer but as you say I can’t see him playing in the four-dayers.

      The batting is still frail I agree and it’s been that way for the last few years. Yes du Plessis had work permit issues which is a shame as he took the odd wicket as well as being a decent batsman and an excellent fielder. Again though, he’s more of a loss to one-day cricket which shouldn’t be the priority, even if those tournaments are expanding or changing (again) this year.

  2. Graham Onions' back permalink
    April 12, 2010 2:07 pm

    I think the player who Lancs choose to replace Sangakkara with will have a big impact on whether they challenge for the title. I suspect, without any real backup to Keedy in the spin department and question marks over the fitness of Chapple and Powell, that Lancs may be a bowler short of a title winning side, particularly if it is a hot summer (we can hope!) and the pitches become very batsman-friendly. Apparently they have been linked with Younus Khan, which would be a great signing for the spectators, but won’t win you the Championship.

    I think Essex may be the surprise package, particularly when Bopara gets back and Kaneira stops fixing matches (allegedly).

    • Ben Winstanley permalink
      April 12, 2010 7:14 pm

      6 months in and The Videprinter is preparing to fight its first libel case…you might have got us off the hook with the Have I Got News For You defence of using the word ‘allegedly’.

      I can’t see Essex doing a lot this season; I’d say Kent are the better placed of the promoted sides.

      Looks like Sangakkara isn’t going to make it so a replacement is a must as you suggest. Should cement Luke Sutton’s place in the side anyway unless young Cross has a stunning run with the bat in the four-day contests.

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  1. New boy Kerrigan spins Lancs to victory « The Videprinter

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