Lancashire coach Peter Moores has hailed Steven Croft's improvement as a player following his call-up to England's 30-man preliminary squad for September's World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka
Moores’ comments come ahead of Sunday's Clydesdale Bank 40 match against Leicestershire Foxes at Grace Road, in which the 27 year-old all-rounder will hope to play a key role.
Croft has excelled in all forms of cricket this summer. He was one of the few shining lights to come from the recent County Championship defeat against Worcestershire at Old Trafford as nine wickets came with his ever-improving off-spin.
He has captained the Lightning in five of the six Group A matches this season, making way for the return of Glen Chapple in Monday’s rain affected win over Middlesex Panthers at Old Trafford.
Blackpool-born Croft scored a crucial 45 off 35 balls as the Red Rose chased down a revised target of 97 off 15 overs to help clinch a fourth win from six matches and move his side into a strong position to qualify for September’s semi-finals.
Whether Croft makes the the final England squad when it is cut down to 15 next month remains to be seen, but he is making an extremely good case for inclusion. And with Lancashire already out of the Friends Life t20 competition, 40-over cricket provides the best platform for him to perform on.
“He’s got better and better as a spinner and a batter,” said Moores. “One of the challenges he’s had as a batter in the longer format to play the right tempo. And when he got his 150 at Guildford, we saw that he’s starting to play a higher tempo innings, which I think suits him.
“He’s got to be confident to do that in four-day cricket. He’s starting to find that, which will help him. As a spinner he’s worked really hard with limited opportunities. He likes bowling in the nets, and he’s had a chance against Worcester. Hopefully that gives him more confidence.”
Lancashire currently sit third in the Group A table with eight points from six outings. They are three points behind leaders the Netherlands with three games in hand and the Dutch side still to visit Old Trafford. The Lightning still have six games to play.
“We are in a good position,” added Moores. “We have some games in hand. If we win them, the table will look quite nice.”
Squad v Leics Foxes: Glen Chapple (capt), Karl Brown, Steven Croft, Gareth Cross (wkt), Paul Horton, Gary Keedy, Simon Kerrigan, Stephen Moore, Oliver Newby, Stephen Parry, Ashwell Prince, Ajmal Shahzad, Tom Smith