Mark Chilton has admitted that relinquishing his role as Lancashire captain was a very tough decision to make, but he is convinced that has made the right one as he searches for his best form with the bat.
The likeable 31 year-old opening batsman has been in charge since 2005, after taking over the role from wicketkeeper Warren Hegg. He only won one trophy in his tenure, but came so close to a whole host of other titles. All along though was the issue of his sketchy form with the bat, that he also admitted was ultimately the deciding factor in him informing the club that he was stepping down.
“I just feel that my own game has not produced what it should have done over the past year or two,” he said. “People have not been seeing the best of me out on the pitch. I have come through the Lancashire set up myself, but I just wanted to take a step back and analyse where I was at with my own personal game. I have been pretty happy with the way things have gone as a whole with the captaincy, but personally I have been below par.”
As he says, Chilton’s time as skipper has been a success. With a little bit more luck here and there, and the odd better performance, it could have even verged on spectacular Near misses came in the form of two County Championship titles, two Twenty20 Cups, and one C&G Trophy.
“There is the expectation with a club such as Lancashire, and you have to deal with that as well,” he continued. “A lot of time I enjoyed that challenge, but there were also times when it weighed heavily on my shoulders. Last season I certainly felt that a little bit - especially when my form was not quite where I wanted it to be. Ultimately it was very difficult, but I had to do everything logically and come to the right decision. That is what happened on Wednesday.”
Chilly is a former Manchester Grammar School pupil, and came through the youth ranks at Old Trafford. And he says it was a “pipe dream” for him to captain the club. He took advice from his family and his cricket manager Mike Watkinson, and added: “I am just looking forward to getting back to doing what I was signed to do, which is score runs for Lancashire.”
Chilton, who will soon become a father for the very first time, would not be drawn on who could be his successor. “I haven’t thought about the consequences of my decision for one minute - I haven’t thought about a replacement,” he said. “It never entered my head what would happen if I was to step down.
“But there are plenty of quality individuals, and plenty of great guys in our dressing room. Whoever does it will be surely do a great job. If the people making the decision want an opinion from me, I would be able to give them one. But I suspect that they will be able to make their own mind up.”
Photos: Ken Grime & Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd