Exclusive Steven Croft Lancs CCC column
Looking ahead to Friday's game at Somerset, in a way I'm glad I'm not captain and having to pick the side this week!
It will be great to welcome back Jimmy Anderson who has been made available by England for a couple of games.
But all the bowlers all performed really well on a docile wicket to bowl seam on this week against Surrey.
Graham Onions, Joe Mennie and Tom Bailey all contributed for us as we nearly forced a really good win.
I’m sure whoever Jimmy comes in for will understand that he’s the world’s best bowler.
It’s not like it’s for an extended period of time either.
He obviously has to get told by the ECB that he’s available because he’s contracted to them. It’s their call.
Jimmy wants to play a lot of the time as well. He’s got as much passion when he plays for Lancs as he does with England, you can see that when he’s wearing the Red Rose.
It’s a real honour to be able to play alongside him when he’s available and a pleasure when we do get him.
One thing’s for sure, Bails will be hoping he isn’t the one to drop out.
He had a really good pre-season when we were away and wanted to take that lead opening bowler role.
He wanted to have that new ball, be in that first line-up and keep his spot and he’s done everything he can in that regard.
His performance last week was up there with all the performances I’ve seen at Old Trafford from a seamer.
It was quite a docile pitch but he was constantly at the batsmen and got his rewards, which he doesn’t always get.
He does a great team job and sometimes the wickets go at the other end while he’s plugging away.
It was great to see him get the rewards he deserves and get some runs as well with the bat.
You can see how good his form has been with him named PCA Player of the Month for April, we were certainly all voting!
Against Surrey last time out, losing the first day completely to rain wasn’t ideal but it was a great team effort to nearly win.
It turned out to be a really good cricket wicket and if we’d got four full days in it would probably have been the perfect pitch.
We only needed 10 or 15 overs more to try and get those last few wickets.
We didn’t have a great start to the game – we were 20-odd for three but we got ourselves in a good position and then nearly won the game.
It was great effort, especially from the bowlers but also the middle order to get up to and past 400.
It was good to see the lads chip in down the order, myself included.
No one went on to get a really big one but there were plenty of partnerships all the way down which made it a really good team effort rather than relying on someone to do most of the work.
Personally, it was great to be back in the side and to make a contribution with the bat was really pleasing.
I reached my half-century with a six, I got a nice juicy full toss and you can’t miss out on them.
I was pleased with my own performance, making 62 after being recalled. I’m just looking to build on that in the next couple of games.
I batted four last year and the two games I’ve played so far I’ve been at seven.
It’s been a bit out of the ordinary but the last few I’ve played I’ve not had to wait too long to bat to be honest so I’ve not noticed much of a difference. I’ve been going in a similar time over wise compared to what I’ve been used to.
But I know at some point I might end up batting with the tail as well, that can be an important role for a number seven.
Jordan Clark at eight is an all-rounder but the rest are bowlers who can bat really.
They are more than capable but it can be tricky sometimes knowing whether to put the foot on the accelerator or trust in one of the lower-order batters.
It’s not come to that yet though and I’ll bat anywhere that I can get in the side. I just want to contribute any way I can.
I pictured going in with the second new ball rather than the first, though!
As for Somerset this week they’ve brought in Aussie Matt Renshaw who’s in form and they have really good local players, young and old.
There’s Marcus Trescothick who is still a good player, the Overtons and James Hildreth. They’ve got a really good side.
Steven Croft is celebrating his testimonial year and was talking to Adam Lord