2018 Cricket Season Preview: Lancashire CCC

Looking forward to the 2018 season at Old Trafford.

2018 Cricket Season Preview: Lancashire CCC
2018 Cricket Season Preview: Lancashire CCC

Next in the spotlight in our county-by-county preview is Lancashire fan Steve Ward, who gives his thoughts and opinions on a variety of issues at the club.

2017 Season

County Championship: Second - Division One

Royal London One-Day Cup: Fourth - North Group

Natwest T20 Blast: Seventh - North Group

Q&A

What are your hopes for the County Championship, Royal London One-Day Cup and Vitality T20 Blast this year?

My hopes are to win everything! But this is Lancs we're talking about so my expectations are somewhat less. 

We'll do very well to repeat a second-placed finish in the Championship. There's not a great deal between a lot of teams in Division One so we could finish anywhere from third to eighth. The bowling attack has lost the two main wicket-takers from last season, and whilst the batting on paper looks okay we might lose a couple to England. In short, it's difficult  to predict but I'm slightly worried.

We've been poor in the 50-over stuff the last few seasons and it's sometimes looked as if we don't really prioritise it. I'd like us to give it a go, however I'd be surprised if we got to the latter stages

Historically, we've got a solid T20 record so last year was very disappointing to go out at the group stage. Often we've relied on our slow bowlers at Old Trafford to win us games but Stephen Parry was not the force of previous years and, Matt Parkinson aside, our bowling was mostly dismal in the powerplays. As for the batting, it was overly reliant on Jos Buttler. The quarter-finals ought to be achievable, and then anything can happen in T20.

How do you think Liam Livingstone will get on in his first year as captain?

He is a least worth a place in the team which, to be brutally honest, Steven Croft wasn't always in the Championship. If he starts well, we might lose him to England anyway.

It is worth remembering that he hasn't actually played loads of First-Class cricket despite being 24. He should have been playing much earlier, but Lancs seem to think that players are young at the age of 28.

What are your thoughts on new boys Keaton Jennings, Graham Onions and Joe Mennie?

Graham Onions I like and he ought to take wickets if he can stay fit, especially early season.

Mennie is a bit of an unknown to most supporters but has a decent record 'Down Under' so hopefully will do well.

I can't say I've ever seen Jennings play a long innings. His First-Class record is modest but we need a top-order batsman to produce the goods so I hope he proves me wrong.

Do you feel Haseeb Hameed can recover from his poor season last-time out to re-stake his claim for a spot in the England squad?

Two years ago he looked a cert for England for the next decade or so: he was fantastic in both technique and concentration, but injuries played a part and poor form really disrupted him. Playing at Old Trafford in April won't help him much. So far, we have only seen glimmers of the player he was.

Who is your tip for next up-and-coming talent at the club?

My personal favourite, based on relatively limited viewing was Parkinson, the leg-spinner who was excellent in T20. I thought he looked a better prospect than the much-vaunted Mason Crane, especially in limited overs. Whether he'll get much of a go in the Championship remains to be seen, but there's not a lot for leg-spinners in April/May.

The other two I would mention are: wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Davies, who had an excellent season opening last year and has improved his 'keeping, and is somebody I hope won't be disrupted by moving down the order again; and Saqib Mahmood, a right-arm fast-medium bowler who looked quite sharp to me on occasions. Again though, he needs games, which he might not get ahead of Onions, Mennie and Tom Bailey.