Posted in Domestic Cricket
Over the past month at Lancashire we've really had a couple of weeks to remember.
To bowl Essex out for 20 was unreal and then to bowl Northants out for 62 in the following game was, amazingly, up there again with that effort. Glen Chapple and myself took 23 wickets unchanged those two matches - it's a bit weird when you think of it like that.
On the third morning at Essex when we were seven down batting, the scores were pretty much level. They'd taken the new ball and would have been thinking, if they bowled us out, they might have been in the box seat to bat well and put us under pressure on the last day.
But myself, Chappie and Simon Kerrigan managed to bat that morning and that gave us the momentum. What happened in the afternoon was just unreal.
People won't believe me when I say this, but the ball didn't do anything during their innings; seriously. We batted really well and they'd spent 130 overs in the field - I think that's the time you want to bowl at any batting line-up when they've been out there for a long time. To get the first two wickets caught at mid-off probably sent the wrong message back to the dressing room. Before they knew it they were four down and the lads who'd bowled a lot of overs were getting their pads on. Everything was going our way.
Simon Kerrigan scored 31 - more than the whole team that followed him - and even he got presented with a prize for that the next week at Emirates Old Trafford by our scorer! I know he bats at 11 but he probably works as hard as anyone on his batting; he loves his batting. There's no doubt that in seasons to come he'll bat higher. We're a team where, even if we're four or five down, everyone is capable of scoring runs and we've proved that on many occasions.
The Northants victory was massive. We won the toss at Old Trafford, it was humid, the ball was swinging but that doesn't mean you're going to bowl well. We did, put them under a lot of pressure and dismissed them for a low score. They came back really well, which you'd expect with them being top of the league. In the end, we did well to get to 150 in our first innings.
There was a lot of talk about the playing surface during and after the game but the wicket was slow; it wasn't really doing much. It was more the fact that the conditions were really humid and overcast at the same time, which doesn't come around too often. I'm pretty sure they'd have won the toss and bowled so we got on right end of that one and kept doing what we've done over the last few weeks - building pressure and getting sides under the pump.
I managed to pick up career-best figures of 7-27 in the first innings against Northants. Obviously that's great but I'm not really bowling any differently. If you keep believing in what you do and stick to it, hopefully you see some good returns down the line and that's what happened. It's up to myself, Chappie and the rest of the bowlers now to keep it going.
Everyone's confidence is high. When you win a few tight matches, as we have this year, you tend to relish games being close. It's a belief thing. Look at Manchester United and how many times they win close games that they probably shouldn't do because all 11 of them believe they're going to win. That self-belief can be the difference.
Northants will be looking for revenge from today when we resume LV= County Championship action in the return match - another top-of-the-table clash in Division Two. In the meantime the Friends Life t20 campaign got under way and we've signed a great bowler in Mitchell McClenaghan for that competition. We've got plenty of options and the way the squad is at the moment; there's always going to be two or three lads disappointed who are very capable of playing.
Like the rest of the country, I'm looking forward to the Investec Ashes series. Any time you beat Australia is good and, having grown up watching them hammer us year after year, it's good to see us as favourites. The way Jimmy Anderson is bowling is great - you want to see your friends do well and stick it to them!