Ashwell Prince believes that departing Lancashire stalwart Paul Horton can be proud of his achievements for the county, as the Australian approaches the end of his stay at Old Trafford.
Horton will call time on his Lancashire career at the end of this season, after playing over 300 games for the Old Trafford side, scoring over ten thousand runs in the process.
The Australian opener made his Red Rose debut in 2003, was Player of the Year in 2007, top-scored in the 2011 County Championship winning season, and was captain as the team reached the t20 final in 2014.
Despite those achievements, it has been whispered that Horton has potential unfulfilled; his stats are good, but not great, and international recognition never transpired, despite flirtations in that glorious summer of 2011.
And whilst Horton’s Championship return of 610 runs at 35.10 hasn’t exactly set alarm bells ringing that this is a cricketer with nothing left to offer, short-form scores have been sub-standard, averaging 19.75 and 22.67 in the Royal London One-Day Cup and T20 Blast respectively.
But Prince thinks that Horton – with whom he is close friends – deserves to be remembered with the same fondness that he will surely receive, and thinks that the fact that the Australian was somewhat of a first-class specialist is not necessarily a bad thing, at a time when emphasis is focussed on the shorter forms of the sport.
“I think maybe sometimes what people do in the real game, which is for me the four day game, is perhaps overlooked,” he said.
“I think the game these days is a lot about white ball cricket and being able to smack the ball miles over the boundary and that’s what all the buzz is about.
“I think he can be proud of what he’s done for the club.
“Maybe he doesn’t get as much credit as he should do, you know, he’s scored 21 centuries for the club at an average of 38 opening the batting – batting in arguably the most difficult position in county cricket.
“If you put his record down on paper then, as an opening batsman, I think you’d only find 10% of batsmen around the country with a better average and career stats than his, batting in such a difficult position.
“To average 38, all-in-all, if you package it together, he can be proud of what he’s done.”
Lancashire coach Ashley Giles described the decision to let Horton go as a ‘tough’ one, but the feeling is that now is the best time for the two parties to go their opposite ways.
However, Prince himself is playing his last season for the county, after cemented himself as something of a Red Rose legend over the past 6 years, playing for the club for the past three summers, after an initial stint in 2009/10.
The South African has excelled in his final season, topping the first-class run scoring charts and passing 2000 runs in all competitions.
Joining his compatriot on the exit list is Alviro Petersen, who shared a Lancashire record 501 partnership with Prince this season, and played a key role in the club’s promotion from the County Championship Division Two.
Promising opener Haseeb Hameed is set for an increased role in the first team next season, impressing with a gritty 44 in the draw with Kent last week in just his second match.
But Giles has a lot of work to do to fill the gaps left by three experienced and prolific batsmen, if Lancashire are to shake the inconsistency of the past five years and establish themselves as regulars in the top division.
Image courtesy of Lancashire Cricket TV, via YouTube, with thanks.