November 2005 - Lancashire

Age-old problem

ESPNcricinfo staff
The Wisden Cricketer's end of season review for Lancashire

The Red Rose all-stars, the highest-paid squad in the second division, finally made it to the title and a £30,000 prize but it was all rather unconvincing and life at the top is likely to be testing for an ageing side. There seems little room for home-grown youngsters and Luke Sutton's arrival from Derbyshire is typical. Gareth Cross, replacing the injured and now retired Warren Hegg for the last game, showed enough pure technique to deserve his chance to develop.

But he is another who will be consigned to the seconds, along with Simon Marshall, the legspinner, Gary Keedy, Kyle Hogg and Sajid Mahmood, as soon as an overseas player is available. Mal Loye was the outstanding batsman; only he and Iain Sutcliffe passed 1,000 runs, with Stuart Law well below his best. So was Mark Chilton, who found it hard leading a side with more individual talent than cohesion.

Losing in the final of the Twenty20 Cup and failing in the semi of the C&G against Warwickshire underlined the shortcomings, which culminated in a spineless defeat by Leicestershire in the final Championship match. That defeat led Mike Watkinson, the director of cricket, to say: "I was not happy about our batting and, although we have achieved what we set out to do - get promoted - our performance left a lot to be desired."

Among the bowlers Jimmy Anderson was outstanding with 60 Championship wickets and 512 overs under his belt. Dominic Cork and Glen Chapple shared 90 between them but where would they have been without the two Muralis - Karthik and Muralitharan - taking 42 in eight games at 15 each?

Player of the Year Mal Loye: leading scorer, whose courage led to him limping out to bat in the last match.
High Taking the second-division title in the Championship.
Low Choking in the Twenty20 final.