Local lads were the key to Lancashire cricket ending a 77 year wait for glory
PUBLISHED: 16:16 28 October 2011 | UPDATED: 12:06 28 February 2013
Local lads were the key to Lancashire cricket ending a 77 year wait for glory, as Alan Murdoch reports
Everyone knows Lancashire is a champion county but its been quite a while since the Red Rose has been able to lay claim to that title officially. Indeed King George V was on the throne, Ramsay MacDonald was Prime Minister and World War Two was still five years away the last time Lancashire were outright winners of crickets county championship (although they did share the title with Surrey in 1950).
But now, 77 years and three Preston Guilds later it would have been four but for Hitler causing a ten-year postponement the county championship pennant flies proudly over Old Trafford once again.
On a sunny September afternoon in Somerset a team of mostly local Lancashire lads totally unfancied at the start of the season pipped Warwickshire to the title in a thrilling finale that went all the way to the last hour of the last session of the last game of the season.
There can hardly ever have been a better time to be a Lancashire cricket fan the multi-million Old Trafford redevelopment plan has got the go-ahead after a court battle; Test cricket is due to return to the ground with an Ashes game in 2013; and, while Lancashire finished top, Yorkshire were relegated.
Lancashires triumph is especially poignant for fast bowler Kyle Hogg, indeed, for him title chasing had become something of a family crusade his grandfather, the famous West Indian spin bowler Sonny Ramadhin, played two seasons for the county in the mid-60s and Ramadhins son-in-law, Kyles dad Willie Hogg, took 122 wickets in four seasons at Old Tafford between 1976 and 1980.
Saddleworth-based Kyle, a fast bowler like his father, said: Its been an amazing turnaround a year ago the club was struggling for money, we had a small squad not fancied to do anything and there was no prospect of Test cricket coming back to Old Trafford. Now things couldnt be much better.
Having to win at Taunton in the last match was really tough. Its the hardest place to go to get a win anyway but theyd prepared the flattest pitch of all time. On that last day we were struggling to bowl Somerset out, then it all came down to the last session with us needing just over 200 to win but not much time to get them.
I couldnt watch. I just stayed in the back listening to my i-pod. It was the worst two hours of my career. Crickets a horrible sport to watch in a situation like that, but the four lads who batted couldnt have done any better and we finally got over the line.
The reaction from people has been absolutely mad. Everyone wants to talk about it.
I was in my local the other night when Paul Scholes came over. Hes an absolute football legend, an all-time United great. I wanted to talk football but he just wanted to talk about cricket. He said hed been following it closely. He knew everything about us. He even knew how many wickets Id taken during the season. That was weird and quite touching.
Personally its been my best season ever. I played 11 games on the trot and I managed to find consistency. But I think Im more pleased for the skipper than for myself. Glen Chapple has been our best player for about 14 years. How hes not been an England regular is criminal. There have been bowlers in the England team not fit to lace his boots.
The great thing is weve done it with local lads and that has to be the way in the current financial climate. You have to get the right blend of youngsters with a couple of older experienced players and the right overseas player.
Can we do it again next year? We have to believe we can. It has to be a building block. Winning can get to be a habit. A few years ago Manchester United werent winning anything but once they started theres no stopping them.
Ive talked to granddad about our win. Hes in his eighties now and he cant believe weve done it after all the great Lancashire players of the past couldnt manage it 77 years is long time to have to wait.
The print version of this article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Lancashire Life
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The boys of 2011
The core of the squad are all Lancashire-born. Steve Croft is from Blackpool, Simon Kerrigan from Preston, Saj Mahmood and Karl Brown from Bolton, Chorley-based Tom Smith was born in Liverpool, Kyle Hogg is from Saddleworth, Gareth Cross from Bury, Stephen Parry from Manchester and Luke Proctor from Oldham.
Fast bowler Jimmy Anderson who, because of England commitments, only played a couple of county games last season, is well known as the Burnley Express. Skipper Glen Chapple and top spinner Gary Keedy are both in fact Yorkshiremen but of course are now honorary Lancastrians
The boys of 1934
The Lancashire captain in 1934, Peter Eckersley, retired from cricket the following year to take up a political career. He was elected as Conservative MP for Manchester Exchange in 1935 but was killed in a flying accident in 1940 while serving in the Fleet Air Arm.
The stars of the side were Eddie Paynter, a diminutive batsman who had lost the ends of two fingers in a works accident in his teens yet went on to have a glittering England career, and wicketkeeper George Duckworth, another Lancashire and England cricketing legend who was then at the height of his fame. Cyril Washbrook, destined to become one of the countys most famous players, was just starting his career