Lancashire Director of Cricket Ashley Giles admitted that he is approaching the prospect of Division One cricket with a mixture of excitement and uncertainty, stating ‘let’s get on with it’.
After last year’s promotion, the Red Rose begin life in Division One at Emirates Old Trafford with a four-day game against Nottinghamshire, starting on Sunday.
England’s highest ever wicket-taker James Anderson will be available for the first four fixtures, and while he will inevitably be the first name on the teamsheet before he is required by his country, Giles says there has to be a degree of flexibility at this early stage.
“There’s still stuff for us to think about, but I guess that’s normal at this time of year,” Giles said, at the county’s media day.
“We’re close – I guess there’s one or two places that are up in the air. We’re prepared to play young people and give them opportunities.
“We’ve got a lot of young lads who are lacking first division experience, and you don’t get that experience without having a crack at it.
“At the same time, of course we want to do well and we want to stay up.”
There are some lingering doubts that remain, owing to the club’s recent history in this division, when the side won the title in 2011, but were relegated in 2012.
After bouncing back in 2013, the side were relegated again in 2014, before last year’s joyous double – winning both promotion and the T20 Blast – has reinstated the side in the top tier.
Giles, to some extent, is a new broom, having been appointed to get the side promoted, but knows that there may still be some scars among the survivors of that relegation wreckage.
“Sometimes poor experiences are not good, but I don’t get the impression there’s a lot of baggage,” he said.
“Everyone’s aware that Division One is going to be tough – I don’t think there’s any need to try and hide that – but that doesn’t mean we don’t go into every game trying to win.
“We’ve got senior guys here who need to put in big performances – that’s no extra pressure, that’s just cricket.
“It isn’t rocket science, your top six or seven have got to get you runs – without being harsh, that is what they’re paid for.”
One area in which Lancashire probably won’t be found wanting is in their seam attack – aside from Anderson, Giles can call on New Zealand international Neil Wagner, Zimbabwean Kyle Jarvis, and youngster Saqib Mahmood.
Between them, those three internationals boast over 1300 wickets, and with 19-year-old Mahmood tipped to have a bright future, Giles believes that his side will be a match for anyone, starting this weekend against a Notts side that will feature Stuart Broad.
“One thing we won’t be is bullied by seam attacks, because we’ve got a high-quality line-up,” he said.
“I’m pretty comfortable with that area, but we still need to get runs on the board.
“It’s great for the game having England players available, and it’ll be great to see Jimmy [Anderson] and Stuart going head to head.
“We’ll be ready – let’s get on with it.”
Image courtesy of Lancashire Cricket TV, via YouTube, with thanks