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Croft - We were looking forward to having a real crack at Division One

Croft - We were looking forward to having a real crack at Division One

Lancashire were confident of winning their second Specsavers County Championship title in 10 seasons, says former champion Steven Croft.

The newly-promoted Red Rose were hoping to kick off the new summer in style last weekend with a home win over Kent at Emirates Old Trafford, though their Easter Sunday clash has fallen foul of the Coronavirus pandemic.

No county cricket will be played until at least May 28, with the very real possibility of that date being pushed back further.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has already said they will prioritise the shorter formats in what is hoped to be a curtailed summer schedule, meaning Lancashire may have to wait another year before targeting Championship glory.

Croft was famously the man who hit the winning runs in the final game against Somerset at Taunton to seal his county’s 2011 success.

And he said: “The squad we’ve assembled over the last 18 months, we were looking forward to having a real crack at Division One this year.

“We got promotion and stayed undefeated last year, which was a great achievement.

“A lot of the younger lads have gained some valuable experience, and there’s some exciting local talent coming through and performing in the first team. Rob Jones and Josh Bohannon are just two of those.

“It’s all built up really nicely to this, and it’s just frustrating that we can’t get out there and prove it.

“I know there are bigger things going on and people in far worse positions than cricketers, but we’d love to be playing.

“Sport is something great, and hopefully we can get back out on the field when it’s safe to do so and can help give people around the country a bit of a lift."

Former captain Croft continued: “We’ve missed out on a couple of things - our pre-season tour to South Africa and the University friendly, and it’s been weird. That will only get stranger on Sunday when we were due to get started against Kent.

“It’s even been weird turning the TV on and there being no football or any live sport to watch, and that’s when it all hits home because so many people relate to sport and get so much joy out of it.

“Sport just brings everyone together, whether you play or just watch. It’s usually a nice distraction, and we will appreciate it all the more when we do get going again.”

Thirty-five-year-old Croft has virtually seen it all in his 15-year first-team career with the Red Rose. But nothing like the current situation he and his fellow county pros find themselves in.

When they are given the green light to return to duty, he feels that it won’t take himself too long to get up to speed and be ready for the cut and thrust of county action.

The all-rounder added: “Some players are different, but myself, having had 17 or 18 pre-seasons behind me and knowing what I need to do to prepare, I’ll probably need a week outside on grass and then feel ready to go again.

“We were lucky as a squad to have had a week’s training in India before all of this kicked off (mid-February), and that helped massively.

“And the season is sort of lending itself to the shorter forms now, so you can at least get a rough template in your mind as to what you might be playing and training for, so that helps as well.”

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