Steven John Croft
October 11, 1984, Blackpool, Lancashire
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
Highfield High, Blackpool; Myerscough College
Steven Croft etched an indelible mark on the county's history in 2011 by hitting the winning runs on the fourth day of the final County Championship match, against Somerset at Taunton, to clinch the county's first outright title in 77 years. It capped a memorable season in which he had also captained Lancashire's one-day side, notably leading them to a place at the Friends Life T20 finals day.
It was T20 that most sustained him and he ended another Lancashire run without success when he skippered the county to their first T20 title at Edgbaston in 2015 - a title that ended a remarkable run of 15 defeats in the latter stages (quarter-finals, semi-finals or final) of limited-overs competitions since 1999. He took over the captaincy after one week of the season due to a back injury to skipper Tom Smith and, as well as taking charge in T20, also supervised another promotion season in the Championship. He was such a fixture in the side that he built up an English record for consecutive T20 appearances, just missing out on the world record when he missed the Roses match because of injury in 2018.
Croft, a batsman/offspinner who can also bowl effective medium pace, has been utilised most in the limited-overs formats, and is a highly proficient fielder at slip or backward point. His early appreciation of cricket came in Sri Lanka where his father was working and he made his first-class debut for the county in 2005 as one of the first Lancashire Academy graduates to be awarded a professional contract. He made rapid progress, particularly in T20, in which he hit the last ball for six to snatch a win over Leicestershire in only his second appearance.
By 2007 he had established himself in the Championship side and was the county's Young Player and senior Player of the Year in consecutive seasons, recording a maiden century against Nottinghamshire (122) in 2008. Venturing abroad, he helped Auckland Aces win the domestic championship in New Zealand in 2008-09.
Lancashire's Championship season brought him much satisfaction. As a batsman, he registered his first one-day hundred - also against Somerset at Taunton - and two in the Championship, including one against Worcestershire on his home ground at Blackpool. He finished the season with 825 runs and took the club's Player of the Year award. His growing stature was also illustrated when he became established as understudy to Glen Chapple as Lancashire captain, standing in for him on several occasions.
In 2012 he struck a career best 154 not out against Surrey at Guildford in July, a week before his offspin gained him career best bowling figures of 6 for 41 against Worcestershire at Old Trafford. He also finished among the leading batsmen in domestic one-day cricket in the country and was named in England's provisional 30-man squad for the 2012 World T20.
He was one of the few players to emerge with reputation largely unscarred from Lancashire relegations in 2012 and 2014 and extended his career-best in the latter season with 156 against the only side to finish below the Red Rose - Northamptonshire. The captaincy, although it came In unfortunate circumstances when Smith suffered a long-term injury, was suitable recognition of his adaptability and he even added wicketkeeping to the list during an injury crisis in 2016 which left both Alex Davies and Jos Buttler unavailable.
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