Moores confident in youth policy
Lancashire 92 for 0 (Horton 42*, Reece 31*) v Leicestershire
Lancashire may have undergone a makeover of their Championship line-up in the two years since their surprise title triumph, but coach Peter Moores is confident their decision to blood more players will make them more competitive once they return to Division One cricket next summer.
Rain washed out all but 21 overs of the opening day of their match against Leicestershire at Old Trafford, where Lancashire made good progress in reaching 92 without loss as they chase the 18 points that would ensure promotion and the 23 points that would secure the Division Two title.
Yet their domination of the lower division is all the more impressive - they boasted a 54-point lead over third-placed Essex at the start of this round of games - because it has been done while pressing ahead with urgent renovation of the misfiring side that suffered relegation last season.
Players like Karl Brown, Steven Croft and Stephen Moore - all key contributors to their title success - have been dropped to allow Andrea Agathangelou and Luke Procter to establish themselves. They have also given opportunities to younger players like Luis Reece, Alex Davies and Arron Lilley, presenting Moores with a larger playing pool to choose from once their promotion is confirmed.
"I think we'll be more experienced than last year," Moores explained. "Like with most things you learn from doing things right. We had huge highs in winning the Championship in 2011 and then the huge low when we were relegated in the dressing room at Lord's, of all places, made us appreciate both and appreciate the fine line between them.
"It's that fine line that makes you get up in the morning and do things right. You work really hard in every game for every point and every win and then often you need a little bit of luck at the right time that helps you win a trophy."
In addition to blooding new players, Lancashire have also strengthened the squad with imported players, signing Ashwell Prince as a Kolpak player on a two-year contract and recruiting former Zimbabwe Test seamer Kyle Jarvis on the same basis. Simon Katich was also signed for this summer as their overseas batting option and talks will begin soon to determine whether he wants to return next season.
"What we've done this year is really cement our style of play," Moores said. "We work hard on the field, which is where it really counts, and all the time you get players who mature and get better.
"We're excited because this year we've seen Luke Procter play consistent cricket, Luis Reece play consistent cricket, Simon Kerrigan get an England debut and Kyle Hogg come back after a lean season and show the kind of player he is. With people like Oliver Newby and Kyle Jarvis we've got the depth we need to be competitive.
"We'd like to obviously win this league and win it well as that would show how much we've dominated so far. It doesn't mean anything if you don't finish the job off."
Jarvis, who has taken 30 wickets in eight Tests for Zimbabwe, was expected to make his debut in this match after captain Glen Chapple failed a fitness test on a hamstring strain - the first Championship match he has missed since the end of last season - but instead Lancashire chose to recall Oliver Newby.
Gareth Cross has also been dropped after a disappointing season with the bat where he has averaged only 24 and been replaced by 19-year-old Davies, a member of England's Under-19 World Cup squad last year who is expected to retain the wicketkeeping gloves for Lancashire's remaining Championship matches.