Croft eyes quick start
Lancashire know the value of starting a campaign strongly and are determined to hit the ground running as they seek a return to Division One of the LV= County Championship in 2013.
The Red Rose suffered relegation from the top-flight this summer, 12 months after claiming their first outright title in 77 years.
In each of the aforementioned seasons, the opening weeks set the tone for what was to follow.
While Glen Chapple’s men roared out of the blocks at the beginning of 2011, winning five of their first six championship matches to establish a healthy lead at the summit, they had to wait until June this time around to register a maiden victory.
Batting all-rounder Steven Croft is therefore well aware of how pivotal the opening weeks of next term could prove.
In an exclusive interview with ecb.co.uk, Croft, who is currently representing Northern Districts in New Zealand, said: “We found that in 2011 we got on an early roll, and momentum is such a big thing in my view in the English game.
“With so many back-to-back games over the season, I found that it made pitching up to the next game with wins under your belt good preparation.
“In 2012 we didn’t really get started and found it tough as each game passed by without a win.
“So starting 2013 with a few early wins will hopefully put us in good stead.”
Croft can look back on the previous season with a degree of satisfaction, despite Lancashire’s struggles.
The improving 28-year-old was his club’s second-highest scorer in four-day and 40-over cricket, and topped the Lancashire run-charts in the Friends Life t20.
In addition, Croft also returned career-best match figures of 9-105 in the championship defeat to Worcestershire in July.
“On a personal level, I found my game progressed in the right way,” he added.
“I was really happy with my limited-overs and T20 performances. I felt I should have scored more championship runs (he accumulated 648 with the aid of two centuries), but also was pleased with my bowling performances in that form.
“I take honour in getting into the PCA team of the year, and also being the club's MVP, player of the year and one-day player of the year.”
After being named in England’s provisional 30-man squad for the World Twenty20, Croft - part of the squad that participated in last month’s Hong Kong Sixes - is now aiming to go one step further.
“It would be a personal target of mine to play international cricket in the 2013 season,” he admitted.
“I am really keen to keep progressing in 2013 and keep a good level of consistency.”