Where are they now? Mal Loye
Mal Loye, Lancashire's former opening batsmen, has remained in the game as a coach since retiring from first-class cricket in 2011
At the end of this summer, it will be 10 years since Mal Loye left Lancashire.
A batsman who scored runs for fun across all forms of the game in a swashbuckling manner which frustrated the very best bowlers in the game, Loye is rising up the coaching ranks in the English game.
Loye, now 46-years-old, returned to Emirates Old Trafford at the beginning of the week with Derbyshire, where he has been for the last two years and has taken on the assistant coach’s role with the first team as part of his remit.
It will definitely have been a happy ‘homecoming’ for the former England one-day international who spent seven years wearing the Red Rose between 2003 and 2009.
“Playing for Lancashire was the most enjoyable time of my career, the highlight,” he said. “I loved living in Manchester as well. I still miss the North West.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. They were certainly my best cricketing days.”
To say Northampton-born Loye’s time with Lancashire was a rollercoaster just about sums it up.
He scored over 10,000 runs in all three formats for the club with 25 centuries and a best of 200.
He played all of his seven one-day internationals for England in 2007 whilst representing the county, famously slog-sweeping Brett Lee for six against Australia at Brisbane.
Unfortunately, however, he left the club having not won a trophy, with too many near misses to list. But they include Championship, Finals Day and Lord’s heartbreak.
“I don’t actually like talking about it too much,” he continued. “I went to Lancs to be involved in the big games, to win trophies, to play for England.
“We were so close every single year, and it got a bit tiring.
“The disappointments were so frequent that it took a lot out of me. Reflecting now, it was a brilliant, brilliant time. But it was also gut wrenching.”
2008 was probably the beginning of the end for Loye, who chose to return to Northamptonshire at the end of 2009. The Red Rose hierarchy wanted him to stay.
One famous incident saw him approached to match fix by New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent, who played for Lancashire before being banned. Needless to say really, but he refused.
“2008 was such a hard year, and it reflected on performance as well,” he said. “I had a benefit year, I had that incident, a few things went on at home - my cousin was murdered. It was very difficult.
“The last couple of years at Lancs were quite tough, but the previous five were the highlight of my career.
“I actually did well in my last year, but I wanted to give those youngsters coming through a chance.
“I just knew my time was done. I never wanted to block the young players’ progression. You had Steven Croft, Karl Brown, Steven Mullaney and Paul Horton, and I would have blocked them had I stayed.
“Northants were desperate for a senior player, so I went back for a couple of seasons.”
Immediately after retiring in 2011, Loye began his journey into coaching, a path which took him to South Africa and Bangladesh before joining Derbyshire as a development coach.
“Back in the day when there was no such thing as 12-month contracts, I always went overseas in my twenties, and my job was to coach in schools and clubs,” he recalled. “I guess the foundations were laid there for something to be involved in after cricket.
“Straight out of playing, I went to Natal for six months.
“I know Grant Morgan, who is the Dolphins coach now. He was the Natal Inland coach at the time.
“He invited me out, and I ended up being there for about six months.
“It was a big commitment to do my level four badge, and I wanted to know whether the professional game was for me.
“I took the position, enjoyed it, and Grant recommended that I made a career out of it. That was the turning point for me.
“I also worked as cricket professional at Wellingborough School and went to Bangladesh as head of high performance (in May 2015) for just over a year.
“I loved that job. I was involved a bit with the first team as well as being in charge of high performance. It kind of mirrors the role I’m doing now at Derbyshire in many ways.
“It just proved a bit much in terms of being away from a young family, and there was a bit of a hiccup with the terrorism. There was an attack which was very close to home - literally on my street. I had to come home.”
Loye describes his role with Derbyshire, who he joined in December 2016, as “ever evolving”.
He added: “I’m head of development. I’m in charge of the Academy, but I’m also involved with the first team as their assistant coach. That was a new thing for this season.
“We’ve had five players who’ve come through in the time I’ve been here to get contracts from the Academy; Alfie Gleadall, Hamidullah Qadri, Callum Brodrick and Sam Conners. Four have gone on to play for England under-19s.
“With the development side of things, that’s what I look for.
“The additional first-team stuff should be good. I’m really looking forward to it.”