Sport

Year in review 2012: Lancashire CCC – From county champions to relegation as Red Rose suffers

By Ross McLean

As 2012 draws to a close, Mancunian Matters looks back at an ultimately disappointing season for Lancashire County Cricket Club.

After the highs of 2011, this campaign was certainly one to forget for the Red Rose faithful, as they were relegated to Division Two.

January 2012

The New Year started with head coach Peter Moores signing a two-year extension to his existing contract meaning the former Sussex wicket-keeper remaining at the club until 2014.

With training ahead of the new campaign in full swing, some of Lancashire players took the opportunity to ply their trade abroad.

In January, Gary Keedy signed for the Sylhet Royals ahead of taking part in a newly formed twenty20 competition, the Bangladesh Premier League.

February 2012

Lancashire announced that South African batsmen Ashwell Prince would be the county’s overseas player during the 2012 summer, replacing Sri Lankan Farveez Maharoof.

2012 would be Prince’s third experience of life at Old Trafford after arriving for the start of the 2009 season.

He returned in 2010 for a spell during which he was awarded his county cap.

March 2012

Peter Moores strengthened his bowling options by recruiting former Warwickshire bowler Naqaash Tahir.

The 28-year-old swing bowler arrived at Old Trafford after spending ten years at Edgbaston, taking 139 wickets from 56 first-class matches.

As champions of English domestic cricket, Lancashire opened the new domestic season by playing the MCC in the Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, winning by six wickets.

The club announced a loss of £3.966 million for the financial year ending 31 December 2011, largely due to the on-going redevelopment of Old Trafford.

April 2012

April saw the announcement that Pakistan seamer Junaid Khan would return to the club in June, after being recommended to Lancashire by legend Wasim Akram the previous year.

The 22-year-old was a revelation during the 2011 Twenty20 campaign when he helped the Lightning to Finals Day at Edgbaston.

Captain Glen Chapple was selected as one of Five Cricketers of the Year in the 2012 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, alongside Alastair Cook, Tim Bresnan, Alan Richardson and Kumar Sangakkara.

Lancashire’s season got off to an inauspicious start at Aigburth – the scene of so many triumphs during the previous championship season – with defeat against Sussex.

There was further disappointment before the end of the month, as Warwickshire inflicted defeat on the Red Rose, again at Liverpool.

This was thanks in no small part to excellent first innings bating contributions from Rikki Clarke and Darren Maddy.

May

Old Trafford hosted Lancashire in a four-day match for the first time since 2010 when they entertained Nottinghamshire.

Jimmy could not inspire the Red Rose as Nottinghamshire returned to the Midlands having thrashed Lancashire by 185 runs.

The club announced that 30-year-old Pakistan all-rounder Yasir Arafat would be joining the ranks for the Friends Life t20 campaign, while Junaid would not given his international commitments.

In early May, Lancashire secured the surprise signing of Ajmal Shahzad from across the Pennines on loan until the end of the season.

While their county championship form continued to stutter, Lancashire recorded victories in their opening CB40 games against Leicestershire Foxes and Essex Eagles, before a nail-biting defeat to Netherlands in Rotterdam.

June

Lancashire finally secured a county championship victory at the Emirates ICG and it was a crucial victory against fellow strugglers Durham.

A win and a heavy defeat against Worcestershire Royals and Middlesex Panthers kept the CB40 competition ticking over before the start of the FLt20 tournament.

After a positive start in the shortest form of the game, defeat at Headingley signalled a collapse which saw Lightning fail to qualify for the quarter-finals.

July

After the FLt20 elimination, focus returned to the county championship and CB40 competitions.

After posting an imposing 485 at Guildford against Surrey and taking early wickets, Lancashire could only stand and admire the might of Kevin Pietersen.

The maverick batsmen smashed the Red Rose bowlers to all parts of the ground on his way to amassing 234 not out off 190 balls.

Moores’ side then suffered a humiliating defeat at Old Trafford against Worcestershire, with question marks again arising over Lancashire’s batting resilience.

Worcestershire returned home with a massive 205-run victory, having bowled Lancashire out for just 63 in their second innings with only Gareth Cross reaching double figures.

The crumb of comfort Lancashire could cling to was their form in the CB40 was as good as it had been for many years.

Three straight victories at the end of the month against Middlesex Panthers, Leicestershire Foxes and Gloucestershire Gladiators put Lancashire in the driving seat in Group A.

August

Powerful victories over Netherlands, Gloucestershire Gladiators and Essex Eagles secured a semi-final berth for Lancashire in the CB40.

There was no result in the Red Rose’s game at Worcester although the game was noteworthy for all-rounder Tom Smith smashing the county’s fastest one-day century.

Smith reached three figures from 44 balls, also equalling the fifth fastest century in List A cricket.

In the County Championship, draws against Somerset, Worcestershire and Durham left Lancashire teetering on the brink of relegation.

It was announced that spin bowler Simon Kerrigan was among the shortlist of six players in running for the inaugural LV= County Championship Breakthrough Player Award.

Kerrigan was shortlisted alongside Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance and Joe Root, Surrey fast bowler Stuart Meaker, Derbyshire top order batsman Dan Redfern and Kent all-rounder Matt Coles.

Following this announcement, Kerrigan went on pick up a six-wicket haul on debut for the England Lions against Australia A at Old Trafford.

During August, Sajid Mahmood, used sparingly by Moores during the season, was allowed to join Somerset on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

September

Lancashire crashed out of the CB40 at the semi-final stage after a 23-run defeat against Warwickshire at Old Trafford.

Lancashire failed to accrue the requisite number of points from county championship games against Middlesex at Lord’s and Surrey at Aigburth.

This meant the reigning kings of English domestic cricket suffered the indignity of relegation less than 12 months after being crowned champions.

Tahir was released after his one-year contract expired, while Mahmood also suffered the same fate after ten years’ service at the club.

England’s premier bowler Anderson signed a new contract at the club to ensure the ‘Burnley Express’ will remain at Old Trafford until 2014.

Steven Croft was voted the club’s Player of the Year, having been a pivotal member of the Lancastrian squad in all formats of the game.

The Blackpool-born all-rounder was also included in the 30-man provisional T20 World Cup squad.

Daniel Gidney was appointed Lancashire County Cricket Club’s new Chief Executive after spending six years in the same position at the Ricoh Arena, home of Coventry City FC.

Lancashire also had to pay a sad farewell to Harry Pilling, a pivotal member of the ‘Team of the 70s’, who sadly passed away during the month of September.

October

After an 18-year affiliation with the county, left-arm spinner Keedy left the club and signed for Surrey on a two-year deal.

After arriving at Old Trafford in 1995, Keedy made over 400 appearances for the Red Rose and claimed over 800 wickets in all competitions.

An announcement was made that Chapple will captain the club for a fifth season in 2013.

The 38-year-old was initially appointed skipper in 2009, with the pace-bowler set to lead the county again in his 22nd season at the club.

November

Lancashire strengthened their bowling attack ahead of the 2013 campaign by recruiting Kabir Ali from Hampshire on a two-year deal.

Prior to joining the south coast club, Ali spent over ten seasons with Worcestershire where he received international recognition with England.

He took a career best of 8-50 against Lancashire in 2007 and has taken over 700 wickets since making his debut at New Road in 1999.

Following hot on the heels of Ali was Australian batsman Simon Katich who will be the club’s overseas player in 2013.

The left-hander made his Test debut for Australia in 2001 against England and made a total of 5 Test appearances for his country with an average of 45.03.

December

Lancashire are back in training and a number of Lancashire’s players are continuing their preparations ahead of the new campaign overseas.

Croft is playing for the Northern Knights as their overseas player in the HRV Cup, while Kerrigan has been taking wickets for the England Performance Programme squad.

There is no doubt Lancashire will look to return to LV= County Championship Division One at the first time of asking and relive happier times like the summer of 2011.

The LV= County Championship Second Division will be no pushover although Lancashire surely possess the necessary quality and depth in their squad to be among the leading lights.

Image courtesy of Lords, via YouTube, with thanks

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