Akram, Statham, Flintoff, Anderson, Murali: Lancashire’s most fearsome attack in 150-year history

With the grass freshly mowed for the arrival of the English domestic cricket season, starting this weekend, Lancashire County Cricket Club is celebrating what Graham Gooch would call a ‘daddy hundred’ – its 150th anniversary.

Since 1864 the Red Rose County has been compiling centuries, racking up five-wicket-hauls and fending off googlys.

While the American Civil War raged, the leading members of the Manchester Cricket Club met at the Queen’s Hotel with the intention of forming a county club – which they duly did on January 12.

Lancashire County Cricket Club’s first ever game took place at Warrington against Birkenhead in June 1864 with their first class bow coming against Middlesex in 1865.

Here, MM have picked out some of the star players from the last 150 years and formed a frightening team from the greatest players to have worn the Red Rose shirt.  

Opener: Michael Atherton (captain)

As a man who went on to captain his country, Michael Atherton is an obvious standout name in Lancashire’s history and is the natural choice to open the batting here.

His early aptitude for leadership earned Atherton the nickname ‘FEC’ which was thought to stand for ‘Future England Captain’ – though the story goes the ‘E’ actually stood for ‘educated’ and the ‘F’ & ‘C’ for something cruder.

Atherton made his England debut in 1989 and would go on to play in 115 Tests and 54 One-Day-Internationals, becoming captain of his country in 1993.

Never the most stylish of batsmen, Atherton became renowned for his ability to ‘dig-in’ in tough situations and refuse to lie down easily against fierce opposition.

He resigned as England captain in 1998 and eventually retired from cricket in 2001, having amassed over 7000 Test runs.

2: Ernest Tyldesley

Ernest, the younger brother of Johnny, is the record run scorer for Lancashire with 34,222 runs and the pair are the highest run scorers in the club’s history with both having scored over 30,000 runs.

Though more prolific than his brother, Ernest often suffered in comparison with Johnny who was regarded as one of England’s finest batsman.

Ernest made his Lancashire debut in 1909 and six times during his career passed 2000 runs in a season – making over 3000 in 1928 at an average of 79.57.

He played in 14 Tests for England and averaged 55.00 while his runs total for Lancashire is unlikely to ever be matched.

3: Johnny Tyldesley

First appearing for Lancashire in 1895, Johnny finished 152 not out in only his second match.

He made 31 Test appearances for England but only averaged 30.75.

Johnny was renowned as a truly great batsmen and is said by some to be one of the finest players England has ever had.

For Lancashire, Johnny scored 31,949 runs seeing both brothers sit comfortably clear of any other player in the club record books.

For sheer volume of runs, the Tyldesley brothers deserve their place in Lancashire’s greatest ever team.

4: Clive Lloyd

The legendary West Indian is the perfect choice to bat at number four.

Between 1968 and 1986, Lloyd played for Lancashire with distinction and made his Test Match debut in 1966.

At 6ft 4in, the tall, imposing Lloyd was a feared left-handed batsman who made 110 Test Match appearances in which he scored 7515 runs at an average of 46.67 including a top score of 242 not out.

Lloyd was instrumental in Lancashire’s 40-over Player’s County League success in 1969 and scored a stunning 126 as Lancashire chased down 235 to beat Warwickshire at Lords and complete a hat-trick of Gillette Cups in 1972.

The West Indian made his mark both at domestic and international level and is one of the most dynamic batsmen ever to grace the game.

5: Neil Fairbrother

For 20 seasons, Neil Fairbrother represented Lancashire with distinction, scoring over 20,612 runs at an average of 41.22.

His standout performance came against Surrey at The Oval in 1990 as he scored a massive 366 and Lancashire amassed 863.

He made his reputation as a feared one-day player and his England career was dominated by the one-day game where he made 75 appearances compared to just 10 Test matches.

Fairbrother played for England at three World Cups and top-scored in the 1992 final against Pakistan.

6. Andrew Flintoff

The man known simply as ‘Freddie’ has become a cricketing icon not just in Lancashire but all over the world.

To be honest, on paper the all-rounder was nothing special with a Test average of just 31.77 and only three five-wicket hauls.

His great power though was his power to inspire those around him and to ignite passion in the crowds through his swash-buckling style.

In 2005, Flintoff came to prominence as the star man in what some would call ‘Flintoff’s Ashes’ and most would call the greatest test series ever.

Flintoff is possibly the most famous cricketer ever to have represented Lancashire in its 150 years and his qualities on the field see him named in this team.

7: Warren Hegg (Wicketkeeper)

Between 1986 and 2005 Hegg played 348 first class matches for Lancashire and England.

Primarily a wicket-keeper, Hegg’s first class average of 27.90 is not extraordinary but is a useful return from a lower order batsman.

Hegg scored 55 half-centuries and seven centuries in his first class career and was a key part of the extraordinary successes in the 1990s as the first-choice wicket-keeper throughout that decade.

In 2002 Hegg, who played two test matches for England, was appointed as captain of Lancashire – a post he would hold for two years.

8: Wasim Akram

Between 1988 and 1998 the Pakistan international was the catalyst for the enormous success of Lancashire in the 1990s.

The left-arm fast bowler is the second highest ODI wicket taker of all time with 502 wickets, terrorising opposition batsmen with his raw pace and his ability to swing the ball around corners.

The Pakistani starred as Lancashire won both the Benson & Hedges Cup and Natwest Trophy in 1990 while in 1995, Akram had a wonderful year, taking 81 wickets for Lancashire in a season where they won the Benson & Hedges Cup. 

Akram took over as Lancashire captain in 1998 and inspired the club to a famous double as they became Natwest Trophy Winners and Axa League Champions in back-to-back days.

9: Brian Statham

Brian Statham is a man who is intrinsically linked to Old Trafford Cricket Ground, with an end named after him a road outside the ground named Brian Statham Way.

Statham is the record wicket taker in the history of Lancashire Cricket Club, finishing with 1816 wickets at a remarkable average of just 15.12 each.

He made his Lancashire debut in 1950, playing for the last time in 1968 – the year in which he received a CBE for his services to cricket.

Statham also played 70 test matches for England, taking 252 wickets and the right arm fast-medium bowler was noted primarily for his accuracy, always working to his mantra of ‘if they miss I hit’.

His accuracy, persistence and consistency allowed him to amass a remarkable haul of wickets for Lancashire – a haul that may never be bettered.

10: James Anderson

No bowling attack would be complete without Lancashire’s ‘King of Swing’ who is currently the second highest Test Match wicket taker for England.

Having made his first class debut in 2002, where he took four wickets against Surrey at The Oval, Anderson burst onto the scene as a fast bowler capable of bamboozling batsmen with his swing.

In 2010, Anderson came of age and has since gone on to be one of the finest bowlers in the world taking 343 wickets for England in Test matches and becoming the spearhead of an incredibly successful England attack.

The right-arm swing bowler does not offer significant pace but is a certainty for Lancashire’s best ever team due to his ability to take wickets though his supreme control of the moving ball.

11: Muttiah Muralitharan

Nor would any bowling line-up be complete without a spinner and in Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan, Lancashire have played host to one of the very best in multiple spells between 1999 and 2007.

Probably second only to Shane Warne in the pantheon of spin bowling greatness, Murali has taken exactly 800 test wickets – making him the Test Match record holder.

Murali has played in 28 first class games for Lancashire and made an instant impact upon his arrival in 1999 taking a staggering 66 wickets in his first six games before leaving for international duty.

The Sri Lankan is by far and away the standout spinner to have ever played for the Red Rose.

Main image courtesy of ITV via YouTube, with thanks.

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