Red-letter day for local lad Brown
For Karl Brown, Lancashire’s historic LV= County Championship triumph was all the sweeter because he was playing with his mates.
Brown can be described as a typical member of a Lancashire side that, through financial necessity as much as anything, is laced with young, local talent.
Of the team that clinched a first title since 1934 by beating Somerset in memorable fashion yesterday, only Stephen Moore and Gary Keedy did not come through the youth ranks at Old Trafford – and Keedy, having spent 17 seasons at Lancashire, has long since been classed as a local.
The XI on duty this week boasted not a single Test cap between them, yet they were good enough to see off a much-fancied Somerset outfit despite odds stacked against them for much of the game.
It was a triumph for the county’s academy system and deserves to be cheered beyond the boundaries of Lancashire as well as within.
The presence of so many players with such an affinity for the club is one of the principle reasons behind Lancashire’s success, according to 23-year-old Bolton native Brown.
“We’re all really good mates. We’re all in it together,” he told ecb.co.uk, soaked with champagne moments after helping wrap up Lancashire’s pursuit of 211 late in the final session at Taunton.
“Everyone has enjoyed each other’s company this season and we work really hard together and enjoy each other’s success.
“If you’re mate’s going out there to bat you want to get behind him. You want to back him up and be a friend as well as a team-mate. It gives you that extra ...”
Brown’s words desert him, but it is perhaps understandable as he reflects on the fact he has achieved what the likes of Brian Statham, Clive Lloyd, Wasim Akram, Muttiah Muralitharan and Mike Atherton, among many other illustrious names, failed to do.
This is a player who was a second XI regular as recently as last season, yet he ends his first full campaign in the senior side with 888 runs at a creditable average of 34 – and an untold number of admirers of his game.
“It’s been a great day. It’s definitely the highlight of my career and will be for a long time,” said Brown, who followed up his 60 in the first innings with an unbeaten 33 as he and Steven Croft put on an unbroken 78 to seal victory with a matter of minutes to spare on a wonderfully climactic evening at Taunton.
“We didn’t need that many runs to win, but it was still nerve-wracking. I don’t know how it looked; I can tell you how it felt and it didn’t feel easy. We were just glad to get over the line.”
Victory this week was Lancashire's 10th of the season, and Brown is candid enough to admit that, had Warwickshire secured the win they needed at Hampshire to claim the title, “it would have been really hard to take”.
That Lancashire emerged triumphant is testament to the sort of belief that Brown claims was running through the squad long before the denouement to another pulsating title race.
“We all believed it was possible,” he revealed. “All the lads in the squad worked very hard over the winter; If any county worked harder than us I’d love to see it.
“After the first few games we definitely did believe we could win it. We thought maybe eight or nine wins would have done it, so, all in all, we have deserved the championship.”
Lancashire’s last act of the summer was witnessed by a healthy contingent of travelling fans, many of whom cavorted with the players and the championship trophy on the outfield in the immediate aftermath of victory.
As a Lancastrian, Brown is as well placed as anyone to acknowledge the impact events this week had on their loyal fans.
“We’ve all felt a sense of relief for every Lancashire supporter,” he said. “They’re around in the good times and the bad times – they always stick with us.
“I’m just really pleased with everyone involved with the club that we’ve come away with the championship.
“We can’t speak highly enough of our fans. They travel everywhere to watch us and this is just reward for their effort.”
The feeling, surely, is mutual.