Second XI aiming for Championship glory
Lancashire face a crucial week in the club’s bid for Championship success on two fronts next week.
The Red Rose county’s first team face Specsavers County Championship leaders Essex at Emirates Old Trafford in a make or break clash, starting on Tuesday.
Win it and the title race is on, lose or draw and it is realistically over with three games still to play.
Meanwhile, at the Newclose ground on the Isle of Wight on Tuesday, the Second XI face Hampshire in the three-day Championship final.
It is a competition the Second XI were joint winners of with Middlesex in 2013, while they are aiming to win it for the first time outright since 1997.
The likes of Glen Chapple, Mark Chilton, Graham Lloyd, Gary Yates and Gary Keedy all played that year, and they were captained by former Australia Test spinner Peter Sleep.
This year, batsman Karl Brown has largely taken on that role as they topped the North Division with four wins from eight matches.
Hampshire topped the South with four wins from nine.
"It's been a good season,” admitted Brown, whose side were beaten semi-finalists by Sussex at T20 Finals Day last month, although he didn't play due to Blast commitments.
"We've got some good young lads coming through, and it would be nice to have some success.
"You've got to give credit to (new coach) Chris Benbow. I've worked with him and captained a few games, and Chris has been really good.
"All the lads have played for him, which has been nice.
"I'd like to be playing Championship cricket, but it's not worked out so far. So it's nice to have been successful and be fighting for a trophy.”
While the likes of experienced heads Brown, Simon Kerrigan, Luke Procter and Arron Lilley have all played regularly, they have been boosted by a number of performances from some exciting young prospects.
"You've obviously seen it with someone like Matthew Parkinson,” added Brown.
“He had a difficult start with the seconds, but he has turned it around and is in the County Championship team and has been in the T20 as well.
“Parky's obviously one, but we have a few.
“Josh Bohannon is a good prospect, as is Danny Lamb. He's already made his first-team debut this year.”
The Red Rose warmed up for the fixture with a four-day friendly win over Middlesex at Liverpool earlier this week.
Tom Bailey took eight wickets in the match, while Josh Bohannon, Callum Turner and wicketkeeper Brooke Guest all scored half-centuries.
Hampshire seconds are captained by the former Durham and Nottinghamshire batsman Will Smith.