Tough task for Lancashire after golden season

Haseeb Hameed’s talent could be tested this season © Getty Images

Director of cricket: Ashley Giles
Captain: Steven Croft

Last season
Championship: 2nd Div 2; NatWest Blast: Winners; Royal London Cup: 5th Group B

In: Alviro Petersen Out: Ashwell Prince (retired), Paul Horton (Leicestershire) Overseas: Neil Wagner

2015 in a nutshell

Things could not have gone much better for Ashley Giles in his first season as director of cricket. Lancashire won the NatWest Twenty20 and bounced back into the First Division at the first attempt with a squad with a strong north-west flavour and there was a sense, too, of sound organisation and togetherness at all levels about which Giles could take much satisfaction.

2016 prospects

Having regained First Division status can Lancashire stay there? Just to avoid the bottom two might be seen as an achievement. The retirement of Ashwell Prince removes 1,478 Championship runs in Division Two, but should be largely offset by the arrival of Alviro Petersen, another South African playing out his career on a Kolpak deal. Haseeb Hameed has rich promise, too, as a top-order batsman, although Division One attacks will present a steep learning curve. Lancashire’s pace attack is in transition so they will hope James Anderson can contribute to a flying start and to see Kyle Jarvis make a further impact. Limited-overs cricket should be less daunting. Strong finances will be the envy of many.

Key player

Much attention was given last season to Lancashire’s highly-effective T20 spinners, Stephen Parry and Aaron Lilley, but if they are to hang in there in four-day cricket then left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan (41 wickets at 31.22 in Division Two last season) needs to transfer those statistics to Division One.

Bright young thing

Saqib Mahmood, a powerful quick bowler of considerable promise, was one of England’s outstanding players at the Under-19 World Cup, finishing with 13 wickets at just 12.69, and he was as effective with the old ball as the new cherry. Born in Birmingham but raised in Rochdale, he has already played three Twenty20 matches.

ESPNcricinfo verdict

Lancashire look well equipped for limited-overs cricket, which should pull in the T20 crowds at Old Trafford, but their First Division status will not be easily maintained.

Bet365 odds: Specsavers Championship, Div 1: 12/1; NatWest Blast n/a; Royal London Cup 14/1

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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