Gary Yates, Lancashire Assistant Coach, reviews the 2ndXI season
The 2ndXI reached the Trophy final for the third year in a row, and we had a thrilling game at Liverpool in September.
You could not pick the winning team until there was four balls to go when it became evident that Nottinghamshire were likely to get over the line. Having lost the toss, the game didn’t start so well for us as we lost early wickets, including Andrea Agathangelou to the first ball of the day. We recovered superbly from 20-3 due to a 100 run partnership between Luke Perry and Stephen Parry and we should have scored at least another 15 runs more than we did, but nonetheless, 192 was a competitive total to put on the board.
Our seamers kept it very tight, something that we had done well all year, and the spinners, Stephen Parry and Arron Lilley, managed to exert a stranglehold in the middle. Notts just about kept in touch and with three overs remaining I felt the game had possibly swung back in our favour. Agathangelou took the catch of the season, a one handed diving catch, on the deep mid wicket boundary rope off the bowling of Lilley. This gave us a chance to keep the new batsman in check. But Notts captain Scott Elstone batted maturely and confidently. He played a very controlled innings of 69no, he ran well, put us under pressure in the field eventually seeing Nottinghamshire home by the tiniest of margins.
The pleasing aspect about the final was that the balance and selection of both teams represented what 2nd Xl cricket stands for. There were a couple of senior professionals in both teams, there were several young professionals who are first or second year on the staff, and there were players hoping to get onto the staff as either Scholarship or Academy players. The teams were evenly matched and as a result a thrilling game ensued.
In the 3 and 4-day matches we had five batsmen who averaged over 40 for the season which meant that we were very competitive in the Championship and reached second place. Overall, results wise, it has been a good season for the second team.
Stephen Parry was one of the outstanding players of the season. Stephen’s previous winter was spent in Perth working on his batting at the Paul Terry Academy and that has clearly paid off for him. Now he has a simple game plan and batting at number 4 for the season he scored 657 runs at an average of 46.93. His reputation as an all-rounder will have been enhanced as he is potentially one of the best one-day bowlers in the country. It was a bonus for the second XI that he was available.
The 2011 season also gave Stephen plenty of opportunity to captain the side. His man- management skills are excellent, and tactically he is very smart. Although he will be disappointed that he didn’t play more first team games, he should be very proud with the progress he has made this year.
Several other players made significant progress this season. Andrea Agathangelou is adjusting well to English conditions. He was brought up on harder and faster wickets where the ball does not seam off the pitch as much, so this has been a big year for ‘Aggers’ because he has learnt so much about his game.
Louis Bentley has had an exceptional season. He gave up his work as a plumber to commit to progressing his career with Lancashire. He has spent lots of time technically, tightening up outside off stump and also focusing on batting for long periods . As a result, he scored 715 runs at 44.68 and notably, his innings v Durham at St Annes CC where he patiently batted the whole day for 153 not out was a sign of how far he has progressed. Louis has been rewarded with a Scholarship contract in 2012.
Jordan Clark was also very impressive. Here is a player with a simple game plan who broke into the first team during the Friends Life T20 campaign. He proved that he is one of the longer hitters in the club, so he was deserving of his opportunity and has been rewarded with a professional contract.
Another batsman who impressed was Luis Reece. Luis, a former Academy player, was completing his first year at Leeds/Bradford University when he was given his opportunity. I like the fact that Luis is able to bat in the middle order or at the top of the innings and he scored 317 runs at 45.29 in 3&4-day cricket. In the 2ndXI Trophy he scored 249 runs at 62.25. Furthermore, Luis became a regular selection for the Unicorns in the CB40. Luis has also received a Scholarship contract for 2012 which he will combine with his continuing studies.
Academy player Alex Davies is a 16-year-old wicket keeper/ batsman who showed real promise in his first season . He is a natural timer of the cricket ball and has a very good work ethic. For a young player, he adapted well to the pace and the wickets of 2nd team cricket which is much quicker than in the younger age groups. Alex made his Lancashire debut standing in for Gareth Cross against the Unicorns at Colwyn Bay, and he is on joint Scholarship/Academy terms in 2012.
Opening bowler Steven Cheetham had a successful season. Steven was unable to break into the first team and we wish him well in his pursuit of first-class cricket with another county.
Oliver Newby, at times, bowled exceptionally well. He is a player who has the natural ability to take wickets, and in one particular week against Yorkshire, he was outstanding with three ‘five-fors’ in four days - one in the Second XI Trophy and two in the Championship. Oliver was also given more batting opportunities this year and he proved that he is capable of making match winning contributions.
Off-spinner and Academy player Arron Lilley played an integral part in the successes of this year’s team. This is Arron’s second full season in 2nd team cricket and he has been working hard on creating more drift. Arron will play next season as a Scholarship player.
17 year-old Gavin Griffiths joined the second team at the back end of the season. He had been involved with the England Development Programme and played for England U19’s during the early part of the summer. Gavin is a player who keeps bowling simple, he is a tall lad with a strong physique and bowls heavy, consistent deliveries and he has the potential to have a successful career in the game.
The amount of fixtures is important to us and with some counties restricted by financial constraints, it is still a policy at Lancashire to invest in 2nd team cricket and so we try to get as much cricket as possible for second XI players. Once again, we had a full fixture list, although last season we did allow ourselves an extra couple of weeks for development time. After playing a month of 2ndXI Championship cricket we deliberately scheduled the programme so that we could do rehab and physical training and also allowing us to focus on the tactical and technical issues that we had learnt from the previous games.
This is a policy that is working well for us and something that we will continue with in the future. Second team cricket is about finding the right balance between practise and playing whilst always challenging the players.
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd
Photo (c) SWpix