Karl Brown, a product of the Lancashire Academy set-up, enjoyed his month-long run in Lancashire's first team more than any other stage in his fledgling career.
That is the view of Director of Cricket Mike Watkinson, who admitted that he was encouraged by the former Atherton man’s start to life as a County Championship cricketer.
“He will have gained a lot of experience from the games he played,” said Watkinson, who awarded Brown his LV Division One debut towards the end of the 2008 campaign. “We have chatted about it all - and he enjoyed that month of cricket more than he had ever enjoyed any cricket, including all of his schoolboy games. There was so much on the matches, and to be involved in high-profile games like that can only do wonders for him.”
Brown was a fixture in Lancashire’s last four Championship games of the season, although he only batted in two of them because of wet weather. His debut was due to be the clash with Surrey at Blackpool, although all four days were washed out. It finally came against Durham at the Riverside, although he did not bat in that game either because of weather washing out the final two days and a good portion of the first two.
He hit a high score of 40 in the crucial victory against Kent at Liverpool, which went a long way to helping avoid relegation, while he also notched 41 in a televised Pro40 League win against Nottinghamshire.
“He came in at a tough period of our season, with very important games to play,” continued Watkinson.
“He didn’t actually get a bat in his first two Championship matches, and when he did get a bat he was in early on damp, juicy wickets against high quality seamers.
He had a couple of noughts in there - and although he wasn’t on his own, you feel for him because he so badly wanted to impress on his big chance in county cricket. What he did do was come back in the second innings of those games, when conditions had calmed down a bit, with a simple, uncomplicated game plan to do ok. He will have gained a lot of experience from the games he played.”
Watkinson pinpointed a few areas where the 20 year-old can improve: “His awareness in the field, his general sharpness around his cricket, his running between the wickets, the hustle, bustle. Those are perhaps the sides of his game that you would want to tweak.”
And the youngster will get an immediate opportunity to improve when he travels to Australia in January for a two-month stint at the Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy. Brown, who has signed for Leigh CC in case he gets the opportunity to play some league cricket during the 2009 summer, has been awarded the scholarship by the ECB. He will spend his time in Adelaide where he will stay with a local family and play first grade cricket at the weekends.
Brown travels to South Australia on January, 5, and will return to Old Trafford in time to pack his bags again for Lancashire’s pre-season tour of the Middle East in mid-March.
Photos: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd