Team of the Nineties (1990-1999)
Following success in one-day competition in 1988 and 1989, more one-day success ensued in 1990 with the winning of both the Nat West Trophy and Benson & Hedges Cup finals at Lord’s. This was the first time any county had won both competitions in the same year. Lancashire almost managed a treble finishing runners-up in the Sunday League.
As a one-day side Lancashire were formidable and showed great strength and versatility in all competitions. In 1991, David Hughes last season, Lancashire were runners-up in the Benson & Hedges Cup and again finished second in the Sunday League.
David Hughes had moulded and shaped a Lancashire team to compare with the side that carried all before it in the 1970′s.
There was a curious Championship match at the Oval in 1990 when Lancashire scored 863 with Neil Fairbrother hitting 366, after Surrey had made 707 for 9.
Neil Fairbrother took over the captaincy for two seasons in 1992, but was never really suited for the role, and was content to return to be a middle-order batsman and develop into one of the most feared one-day players in the world. The loss of Wasim Akram to Pakistan obviously had a great effect and the team, after promising well, were knocked out of both cup competitions at the quarter-finals and finished mid-table in the Sunday League. At the end of the season it was decided to release Paul Allott and Graeme Fowler, two players who had given distinguished service to the club.
In 1993 four wins out of the first seven matches ensured that Lancashire had a good start but they slipped during the season and ended it in 14th position, a drop of two places from the previous year. In the Benson & Hedges Cup Lancashire lost to Derbyshire in an exciting final with Neil Fairbrother scoring an heroic 87 not out. Mike Atherton was appointed Captain of England during the season and for 1994 Mike Watkinson was appointed county captain and David Lloyd head coach.
In 1994 Lancashire looked to the development of young players and Peter Martin and Glen Chapple both took 50 wickets. The batting looked very solid with John Crawley and Jason Gallian making good progress. John Crawley scored two double centuries, 250 and 281 not out as well as 286 for England ‘A’ in South Africa. However there were early departures in both Cup competitions and Lancashire’s position in the championship of 10th was misleading with 25 points being deducted for an unsuitable pitch. They would have finished third without the fine.
1995 saw Lancashire back to winning ways with a Benson & Hedges Cup final win at Lord’s and a magnificent start to the season winning the first ten matches outright.
Wasim Akram took a record 81 wickets but only two players, Crawley and Gallian, scored 1,000 runs. There were many Test calls though Lancashire finished a credible fourth in both the Championship and Sunday League.
The success of 1995 bolstered the strong feeling that within the next few years Lancashire could have their best chance since the War to win the County Championship outright. And success did follow in 1996 when a confident, strong and settled team won both domestic cup competitions.
It was the second time that both the B&H Cup and NatWest Trophy had come to Old Trafford in the same season, (the first time was in 1990) and is something only Lancashire had achieved until Gloucs’ double success of 1999.
It was a season without the inspirational Wasim Akram, on tour with Pakistan, and Lancashire fielded a ‘home grown’ eleven in both finals, leaving out the unfortunate overseas replacement Steve Elworthy each time 1997 was an underachieving, and barren, year in terms of trophies, but Lancashire made a significant appointment in coach Dav Whatmore and were the first county to offer players twelve month contracts.
The real benefits were seen the following year-another double winning season-with Wasim Akram taking over as skipper as the players responded to the improved preparation and training with an all out assault on three trophies.
Success came with another NatWest Trophy win at Lord’s, and the Axa one-day League title was wrapped up the following day at Old Trafford.
The only disappointment came in the Championship where Lancashire finished runners-up to Leicestershire. The team won their last six Championship games in an exciting finish, and only lost five games in all competitions during the entire season. It was one the best seasons in the club’s history, and Lancashire followers everywhere hoped for further honours in 1999.
The last year of the decade did bring some success, and a few surprises! Lancashire started slowly and were near the bottom of the Championship in early June. They were knocked out of both cup competitions, but were boosted by the arrival of Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan.
The Sri Lankan spinner mesmerised everyone with a whirlwind 66 wickets in 6 games, before leaving for Test duty.
Lancashire stormed up the table, continued winning after ‘Murali’ departed, and finished runners-up in the Championship for the second year in succession.
The surprise of the season had to be the departure, in mid-July, of coach Dav Whatmore to Sri Lanka. He returned to his previous role as coach to the Sri Lankan national side. It meant an increased role for new skipper John Crawley, with Warren Hegg appointed vice-captain.
In the new CGU National League (previously the Axa League), Lancashire Lightning lost two early games, but were never defeated again, and retained their title with one match to spare. It was their eighth trophy of the 1990′s-more than any other side-making them the undisputed ’Team of the Nineties’.