Lancashire have been shocking this year. They’ve not been brilliant the previous couple of years either.
How they managed to be in a championship-winning position last season is beyond me and even though I was absolutely gutted when Dominic Cork was bowled at The Oval, I couldn’t help but think we didn’t deserve to win. Yes there is all the talk about us being stopped by the weather but in my opinion, we haven’t been good enough when the weather has held off. This depresses me greatly.
I wish that the problem was just a complete weakness in one area that stopped us performing as a unit but I don’t think we are bad at anything; the problem I see is that we aren’t brilliant at anything.
Winning teams need a strength that always gets them through the tough times. Can anyone name Lancashire’s strength?
I can’t. This is our problem.
Batting-wise we have had Horton and Law playing very well the past two years.
I believe there are two types of player good teams are made of; consistent players and players capable of match winning performances. Outside of the two previously mentioned players, no one has batted with any consistency and there aren’t any match winning innings that spring to my mind.
Loye looks a mess at the crease, Sutcliffe (now retired) and Chilton (amazingly currently Lanc’s last hope v Kent) have lost all ability to score runs and none of our bowling all-rounders are good enough to bat above 7.
The two main positives are the steps taken by Croft this season and the Kolpak purchase of Du Plessis. Du Plessis has been brilliant in one-day games but even he has barely made an impact in the longer matches.
Croft now looks like the one youngster who might actually have a long career in Lanc’s middle order so he needs to be gradually worked up the order so that he can be the no.4 for years to come. I don’t know how long Du Plessis will stay or how dedicated he is (seems though he says he’ll leave to return to South Africa’s Titans before the end of the season) but at the moment it looks as though he could be our no.5.
I think what needs to be done is to throw Karl Brown in at the top of the order and take a gamble that he can come through like Horton did. I haven’t ever seen him play but have heard excellent things about him and let’s be honest, he can’t do much worse than whoever has partnered Horton in the past 2 seasons.
I don’t think anyone expects Chilton to come back to his best (although fingers crossed for the remainder of this season) so having 4 youngsters fixed in the line-up (Horton, Brown, Croft, Du Plessis) leaves room for an improved Mal Loye (hopefully Law at 6 for another season) and/or a very important, well chosen overseas batsmen to give a solid base for the team.
On the other side of the game, we have many decent bowlers. The problem is that none of them are entirely threatening.
Chapple and Cork are old and with this don’t ever seem like getting wickets when I watch (although both have had decent seasons).
Then there are the products of Lancashire’s esteemed academy that produces a none-stop supply of pace talent. The next problem is that none of the often-tried young bowlers have any pace. Hogg – nope, Smith – nope, Newby – a little more, but not really. Chapple and Cork were never express but they could get to high to 80s for spells and we need replacements ready for when they go.
Even with everyone saying Mahmood is looking consistent and his pace is back up, he hasn’t ever seemed to trouble batsmen when I’ve watched. I have no idea how he has got wickets as the pitches I have seen him play on have taken all the pace out of the ball and make him look slow. When he looks slow, the whole attack looks slow.
I think Ste Cheetham should be given a go at 4 day matches. He’s done really well in the 2nd XI and has played well when called up for first team one day games. From what I saw he is quicker than the other young bowlers and he is very tall so gets big bounce. If you have two quick bowlers (him and Mahmood), that allows you to have some slower line and length bowlers (Smith still has a big future) and gives the attack some variation instead of being pretty much all the same speed and height as it is now, bar Mahmood.
Keedy has looked pretty good but just hasn’t taken the wickets we know he is capable of and I don’t think spin is a department we have a worry with. Baer looks pretty good from the academy and Parry should start to come through from the 2nd XI shortly.
A main problem of the past few years is the overseas slot. Brad Hodge is our long term investment but he has barely been here to help us with his obvious brilliance.
That has led us to having Lou Vincent for half a season.
Lancashire should never get a player of his averageness for a long time; we get brilliant overseas players because we are a big club. Murali, Hooper, Law, Akram, Hodge – these players are of the highest class so being left with Vincent is no more than a let down to be honest. I think I’m correct in saying he’s been dropped multiple times showing that the club realise he was a waste and they should have given Chilton, Sutcliffe or a youngster a long go from the end of the Twenty20 competition and saved some money.
With the inconsistent team we have, the club should be searching the market for the best possible overseas player for next season right now because we might just find ourselves in a relegation battle next year.
Possible team in two years time:
P Horton, K Brown, Overseas Batsmen, S Croft, F Du Plessis, Maybe G Cross, L Sutton(wk), T Smith, S Mahmood, N Baer, S Cheetham