Exclusive Steven Croft column: Putting the opposition batsmen in a spin

Mark Watt's success with Scotland led to his opportunity with Lancashire
Mark Watt's success with Scotland led to his opportunity with Lancashire

In recent games I’ve been handed the ball for the first over of the Twenty20 games. It’s something I’ve got quite a bit of experience in doing.

It’s something I’ve got quite a bit of experience in doing.

It’s gone pretty well, and while it would be good to bowl out a bit more and get a bit of a bowl in the middle overs, we’ve got a well-stocked spin department at the moment.

It’s a team game and I know everyone’s got a role to play.

Sometimes it can really work to change the bowler over-to-over in T20, especially if you’re not taking wickets.

You might need to mix it up a bit and keep the batsmen guessing.

We always have a strong bowling line-up and it’s a way of not letting the batsmen get into any rhythm.

There’s a lot of different ways to look at things though and there’s no set formula.

As a captain you have to go on your gut though.

Zahir Khan had a great spell against Durham and we kept him going and he did well.

He’s one of two new spinners we’ve signed over the last couple of weeks along with Scotland international Mark Watt.

They’ve settled in really well. We weren’t expecting them to be honest, especially with the lads we’ve already got.

With Zahir also playing for Afghanistan, it’s great to see players from associate nations playing in county cricket.

Those countries are doing well and it’s nice for them and the county game to get them exposure.

Their skills are more than good enough and it’s great to see them around.

Zahir bowls left-arm wrist spin, which is pretty rare really.

He is quite quick and I’m not sure many, if any, of the lads have been picking him in the nets.

If we haven’t got much of a chance then maybe the opposition haven’t either!

His performance against Durham will really settle his nerves coming into a new side.

He’s relatively inexperienced so it will have done him wonders.

Mark played a few second team games for us and did well.

He also played in the Scotland side that beat England earlier this summer and bowled well up there.

With Stephen Parry getting injured a few weeks ago he was brought in to have a look at him.

It’s good competition to have around the squad.

There’s even players like Arron Lilley who isn’t bowling much and then captain Liam Livingstone who is out injured at the moment and myself.

We can’t all play and all bowl so there will be disappointed players but the lads always take it very well and professionally.

It’s quite a big spin department and you can only bowl 20 overs in the game and we trust whoever gets the nod to go out there and do their best.

It was a shame I had to cancel the T10 tournament at Blackpool for my benefit year a couple of weeks ago.

The next event I’ve got coming up is a golf day at Stockport Golf Club on September 19.

I’ve got a couple of rounds in recently to try and not embarrass myself next month.

I’m not a massive golfer to be honest.

I’m not too bad and I tend to hit the ball pretty far.

Whether it goes straight or not is another matter entirely!

A lot of the lads play around Manchester, especially the young ones without families.

It’s difficult to fit it around kids when you’ve already played cricket all day but I’m getting to enjoy it a bit at the moment.

I’ve done a few charity events this year which has got me going and I’ll just have to see how it goes on the day itself.

Switching sports again, it was a real shame to see Gary Bowyer leave Blackpool FC this week.

I thought he did an incredible job with what he had.

It was always going to be a tough ask for him but he consolidated in League One last year when it could have been a different story.

From what I’ve read and heard he sounded like a really good man and a really good manager.

I’m sure he will be back in the game sooner rather than later.

Whoever comes in is going to find it really difficult I think but we’ll just have to see what happens.