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Dane Vilas: I want to make Lancashire proud

Dane Vilas: I want to make Lancashire proud

“I’m extremely honoured to represent Lancashire”

Dane Vilas has spoken of his pride at being appointed as Lancashire’s new captain and has revealed how he and his young family have developed a love affair for the Red Rose county. Vilas has replaced Liam Livingstone in the role after he stepped down in early November to concentrate on his own form with the bat.

Vilas will embark upon his third season at Emirates Old Trafford in 2019. A former South Africa Test Match and T20 international, the 33-year-old has already scored two double centuries in County Championship cricket alongside more crucial runs - his match-winning century against Worcestershire at Southport last season will live long in the memory, for example.

He has gained a wealth of experience since making his first-class debut for Gauteng in 2006 and is excited by the prospect of leading Lancashire’s rebuild following the disappointment of Division One relegation.

“I was extremely proud and honoured to represent Lancashire - a massive club - in the first place. Now that they’ve offered me the captaincy and think I’m the guy to lead and take it forward, I’m very happy with that,” said Vilas, who played six Tests in 2015 and 2016.

“I wasn’t expecting it. I thought Liam did a good job, and I fully supported him. I know the team were behind him as well. But, personally for him, he obviously decided he needed to step down. For his career, I think it shows a lot of maturity. It can only benefit him in the future."

Given last season’s disappointment and the need for an immediate return to the top flight, Vilas has little time to bed in and will be under pressure to help produce results.

 “There is always pressure at a big club like Lancashire,” he continued.

“There was pressure to stay in Division One and now to get back to Division One. Even in the white ball stuff, we feel we’ve been under par for the last couple of years. I know we made Finals Day at the end of the season, but we want more. We’re a good side in all three forms, and we want to show it. The pressure is good for the players. Hopefully it brings out the best in the guys.

"There are areas that need work. Batting wasn’t our strong point. We had two bowlers in Tom Bailey and Graham Onions who were incredible the whole season, but we didn’t help them out with the bat. We know that needs work. All round, we have to challenge the guys to be a bit more focused and mature about things.”

Alongside captaining Lancashire during the second half of 2018 with Livingstone on the sidelines, Vilas has also captained South Africa A before along with Cape Cobras in similar spells to last season’s county stint. He is also skippering the Jozi Stars team in the ongoing inaugural edition of the Mzansi T20 Super League.

“It’s something I have experience of, but leading a team like Lancashire for a full season in a different country is a new one for me and exciting,” he said. “I really enjoyed it last season.”

While Vilas is back in a South Africa, his wife Pippa - a qualified lawyer - and their two children are living in the UK, where they hope to remain beyond his current contract until the end of next season. After all, they have fallen in love with Lancashire life.

“Right from the word go, Lancashire welcomed me in and made things so easy,” he added.

“The players, the coaching staff, everyone. I remember Chappie picking me up at the train station when I got in. Once I got into the changing room, it was great. Those small things go a long way. They also welcomed my family, and we love it over there now.

“My wife has an ancestral visa through her grandfather, which allows us to live and work. We are trying to make England our home for the next few years at least. As long as I’m doing well and performing for the team, hopefully I can stay here. I want to make Lancashire proud and reward them for the faith they’ve shown in me.”

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