The Statham Era (1954-1968)
The 1950′s saw the emergence of one of Lancashire and England’s all-time greats, Brian Statham.
With the retirement of Nigel Howard for the 1954 season, Lancashire looked to their first professional captain Cyril Washbrook who was to captain the side for the next six years. He was one of the most respected players in the game but perhaps not the most dynamic of captains, and there was a strong feeling that Lancashire did not make the most of their available talent.
In 1959 Pullar, Grieves and Wharton all passed 2,000 runs and Statham, Higgs and Greenhough all taking 100 wickets, yet they only finished 5th despite beating Surrey twice. This was the period of Surrey’s dominance of the County Championship with seven successive titles.
The retirement of Cyril Washbrook threw the captaincy wide open and the committee went for amateur Bob Barber in 1960 at the age of 24. His first season was successful and they finished runners-up with five batsmen scoring 1,000 runs and Statham, Higgs and Greenhough again exceeding 100 wickets. Lancashire were top of the table during August and missed the title only through a poor run which saw them lose four and draw two of their last six matches.
The following year saw Lancashire plummet to 13th place, Barber was too young for the captaincy and there were several problems with senior players. Lancashire’s best players Statham and Pullar played in all the Tests against Australia and Pullar again scored 2,000 runs.
There was a further plunge in 1962 as Lancashire led by the amateur Joe Blackledge, who did not have any first-class cricket experience, slipped to 16th winning only two matches and losing 16. During this time there was much disquiet at the club with many players leaving for careers with other counties.
Ken Grieves was captain for two years without much success except Lancashire reached the semi-final twice in the new one-day Gillette Cup. Matters came to a head with members dissatisfaction in 1964 when the committee resigned en bloc, before elections could be held. They also enraged members by advertising in The Times for a new captain.
Cedric Rhoades became chairman and the committee appointed Brian Statham as captain for 1965 to 1967, a very popular choice. Statham’s spell as captain was a period of comparative peace with the side making steady progress and laid the foundations with the younger players so avidly built upon when Jack Bond took over in 1968.
Brian Statham made his final appearance for Lancashire in the Roses match in 1968 to end an illustrious career with more wickets than any other Lancashire bowler 1,816 at 15.12 each.