We caught up with Paul Horton earlier in the week from his base in Zimbabwe, where he has spent his second winter playing for Matabeleland Tuskers
After helping the Tuskers to win some silverware again, the Lancashire opening batsman believes that his form can carry on when he returns to help the Red Rose defend their LV= County Championship title.
LCCC: Last season for Lancashire you played a significant role in helping us win the title, by notching over 1000 first class runs and taking 32 catches in the field. Is it fair to say that your spell in Zimbabwe last year played a big role?
PH: The opportunity to play First Class cricket overseas last season in Zimbabwe camne at a great time for me. I wanted to recapture my 2007/2008 form where I scored a 1000 and Zimbabwe was perfect to spend time in the middle and build big scores again. it really helped me recapture that form and confidence heading into last season!
LCCC: After a great year for you and the team, was it tempting to ‘have a rest’ and stay in the UK for Winter? Or did you not need to think twice about returning to Zimbabwe?
PH: I suppose it was a little tempting and also to fully enjoy the celebrations of winning the Championship but I had already given my franchise in Zimbabwe my word that I was coming back and I didn't want to change that. Also we won the First Class competition here last season so defending the title for them was another challenge for me. We have successfully done that so winning another trophy has been special.
LCCC: It’s your second consecutive year over in Zimbabwe, have you noticed anything different this year compared to last? Has the standard got even better?
PH: The standard has got better and as every year goes on I think they will iron out some teething problems that they are having. I think it's a steep learning curve going back into Test cricket but the longer they play the more they will adapt and the First Class structure will get better.
LCCC: How has your personal form been there? Which of the competitions have you enjoyed the most?
PH: My personal form has been consistent over the five months. I've continued my good first class form but I've only had 10 innings. I enjoyed a really good Twenty20 campaign which I was really happy about as there were some big names playing and to average 50 in the tournament was nice.
LCCC: Has Lancashire’s success been mentioned much?
PH: Most people knew that we had won the County Championship and some had watched it on Sky Sports. I also had a Lancastrian who now resides in Zimbabwe personally congratulate me so it's amazing how widespread our win was.
LCCC: Can we repeat their success of last season? We came close to winning t20 honours last season, could it be even better this coming year?
PH: There is definitely no reason why we can't repeat the feats of last season. If anything we are going to be better as we are all a little older, gained some more experience and of course we have the major belief from our success. Apart from Mark Chilton retiring we are the same squad that won it, so why not? We were all disappointed with losing the Twenty20 semi and it's not the first 1 day semi-final we've lost recently so I expect us to make Finals Day again, and if we do then who knows?
LCCC: Have you set yourself any personal targets for Lancashire this coming season?
PH: When I look back at 2011 it's one of missed opportunity for me really, yes I passed 1000 runs but I was out four times in the 90s. If I converted more into really big hundreds then I would have had 1200 runs and maybe been noticed a bit more for higher honours! The target for next season and the future is to convert more of my starts in big hundreds for the club!!
I'm also targeting a big Twenty 20 campaign after my success here I want to push on in that format and really show what I can offer!
Paul Horton was talking to Paul Holliday
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd