As pre-season title favourites Lancashire slid closer to relegation with a 147-run defeat at home to Surrey, it was clear the strain was getting to Warren Hegg, their embattled captain. As he left the field at the end of the game, he engaged in a heated exchange with spectators at the front of the pavilion, allegedly yelling "You're a coward," at one of them.
Hegg was unbeaten on 17 as Surrey completed their win, skittling Lancashire out for 129, and some Lancashire supporters made it clear they felt he should step down as captain. "It just disappoints me that when we've got our backs massively against the wall, a minute section of our supporters get into our lads about being rubbish and not trying," Hegg was quoted as saying in The Guardian.
Hegg received the backing of Mike Watkinson, Lancashire's coach, who himself was subjected to some blunt comments . "Warren's a very passionate player with pride in his own individual performances and those of the team," Watkinson said. "We can all relate to the way you feel when you're at your lowest, and somebody puts the last finger between your ribs."
Hegg told reporters that he had no intention of resigning yet. "I'm not going to quit when we're in a battle," he said. "We've still got two games to go, and if we win those we can stay up."
But things don't look good for Lancashire, who need to win their remaining two matches - at Worcester and then at home to Gloucestershire - to have any realistic chance of survival (click here for latest table).
Both Hegg and Watkinson received public support from Jack Simmons, Lancashire's chairman. "Relegation would be a big blow," he said, "but it should not cause any knee-jerk reactions and I certainly don't foresee any changes to the management team. We've always supported them in the past and I see no reason to believe that this will not be the case when they come to us about contracts and new players."