Back in May, I wrote about the possibility of Lancashire Cricket club breaking a 77 year sequence of failure to win the Cricket County Championship. Since the last time the Red Rose county had it’s name engraved on the trophy, Lancashire’s teams have featured world cricket superstars such as Clive Lloyd, Mike Atherton, Wasim Akram, Andrew Flintoff and Muttiah Muralitharan together with more local legends such as David Lloyd, Brian Statham, Cyril Washbrook, Jack Bond, Graeme Fowler, David Hughes and Neil Farebrother.
Today a team composed of players hailing from Oldham, Preston, Liverpool and Billinge, many of whom would hardly claim to be household names, achieved what all the greats could not. A final day turnaround after Warwickshire seemed to have the title in the bag and Lancy destined to be the bridesmaids again, saw a magnificent win at Somerset and valiant, already relegated, Hampshire keeping the Bears at bay and the Title is finally back at the other Old Trafford. I spent the last 30 minutes simultaneously watching the updates on cricinfo and listening to Radio Lancashire commentary.
To those of us of a certain age, cricket and your county team is still important. The history runs deep, the great Lancashire one day sides of the late Sixties and early Seventies when limited-over cricket was a permanent fixture on Sunday afternoon TV. Who can forget in the Gillette Cup semi-final against Gloucestershire in 1971, David Hughes coming in to bat at 8.45pm and hitting 24 from an over in near darkness to win the match. One day cricket was very popular then and a great day out. I remember going to watch a Gillette quarter final at Old Trafford in the Seventies with my brother and thinking that we were big drinkers as we swaggered up with a substantial carry out of canned beer. However there were guys in the queue for entry who quickly confirmed our amateur status in this regard; the real men were carrying barrels on their shoulders! For the record, I recall the great Hampshire opening partnership of Barry Richards and Gordon Greenidge losing their wickets cheaply but then everything began to get somewhat hazy – it was the sun I expect.
County Cricket is hardly enjoying the levels of popularity it had when Lancs last won the title, but I am sure that there are many like me who feel a warm glow tonight as the sequence is finally broken. If cricket could find a way to harness some of its passive constituents to come and watch a few games then the county finances would undoubtedly improve.