A very happy Mark Chilton and Peter Moores with the Championship trophy at Old Trafford
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
It is Friday morning and I am sitting in Taunton's cricket museum, which is housed in the Priory Barn. Hung on the opposite wall are a series of official banners: "Benson and Hedges Cup: Champions 1981" proclaims one; "1983 Somerset CCC Winners NatWest Bank Trophy" reads another. Very soon someone will have to embroider a pennant you know. It will read something like this:
"Lancashire CCC LV= Division One Champions 2011".
Yes, it is beginning to sink in.
In a room which is dripping with one county's past, I am thinking about another county's history-makers, whose feats are being lauded in almost every newspaper in the land this morning. Very soon there will be chants and songs too. Gary Keedy's run-out of Gemaal Hussain may be set to music, although no melody could be sweeter than the swoop and throw at 2.39 yesterday afternoon which saw the end of the Somerset innings. Jonty Rhodes...Faf du Plessis...Gary Keedy...Bloomin' heck!
It is good to be in Taunton this sweet day in very late summer. A few minutes ago I walked on the ground where MacLaren scored a record-breaking 424 for Lancashire in 1895; it is also the place where, in 1925, Jack Hobbs equalled and then surpassed W G Grace's record of 126 first-class centuries. And it is the field where, some 19 hours ago, Steven Croft cut Craig Meschede for four to ensure that Lancashire would win the County Championship for the first time since 1934. A C MacLaren...Jack Hobbs...Steven Croft...Bloomin' heck!
I think we should say something about Peter Trego too. County Championships should be fought for hard and fairly. Lancashire's triumph yesterday was made all the sweeter for the fact that Trego made Glen Chapple's bowlers work damned hard for their triumph. His century was superb and it was a wonderful addition to the fabric of the day's cricket. Would today be quite as sweet for Lancashire supporters if it had not been nearly denied them by an opponent's skill and temperament? If it was obvious who was going to win the title, where would we find the sport, where the uncertainty, where the thrill?
And then there were the supporters. They came from all parts of Lancashire and beyond, and many of them gathered in the stand in front of the scoreboard. It will, I suspect, be a long time before I forget the cheer that went up in those rows of seats when the news came through that Warwickshire had drawn with Hampshire. A few runs later those same fine people erupted in joy again and streamed onto the field, where they and the players leapt with the joy of the treasured moment.
And yes, someone unfurled a home-made banner too. It read: "Champions at last, Champions at last."
"Oh Hampshire we love you," sang Mark Chilton lustily in the middle of the crowd. Later that admirable, dignified man said this: "This is unquestionably the greatest moment of my career. Thirteen I was when I first pulled on a Lancashire shirt, so it's been a long time coming. There's been a lot of talk about this but to be part of the squad that's achieved it is just outstanding and it's something I'll take with me for the rest of my years." In April someone wrote about the Oval outfield in 2007 and Mark Butcher's words of consolation to Chilton. Well there's no need for sympathy now. Instead, there are tunes of glory being played across the County Palatine. In a very deep sense few players deserve them more than Chilton. Chilly mate, you're a champion.
Article (c) Lancashire County Cricket Club