Unfortunately Lancashire could not defend their title a year later. In fact, the seasons of 2011 and 2012 were like chalk and cheese as relegation to the second tier hit the county.
Swap the early winning streak of 2011 for a losing streak the following season, and the season could not be rescued as some sketchy form and poor weather combined to consign the county to their first campaign in Division Two since 2005.
No player took 50 Championship wickets, and only overseas batsman Ashwell Prince topped 1,000 runs as the Red Rose won one match, lost five and drew ten. The end of the season also saw stalwart Gary Keedy end his 18-year stay at Old Trafford by moving to Surrey in search of more first-team cricket following Simon Kerrigan’s emergence as the number one spinner.
Kerrigan’s performances - he took a county high 44 wickets at 34.81 - were a major positive from the season, as were Steven Croft’s performances in all forms of the game, particularly in one-day cricket.
Croft’s 513 runs in the Clydesdale Bank 40 helped the Lightning reach the semi-finals of that competition, while his 313 in Twenty20 earned him a place in England’s provisional 30-man squad for the World Twenty20 later in the year.
He did not make the final cut of 15, but ended the year playing domestic cricket in New Zealand as the overseas player for the Northern Knights.
Croft’s performances were often explosive, a word that perfectly describes Tom Smith’s record-breaking century in a washed out 40-over match against Worcestershire in late August.
Smith smashed 106 off 46 balls, bringing up his hundred off 44 and placing his his ton equal-fifth fastest in List A matches in the world and equal third in domestic cricket.
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
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