Exclusive Steven Croft column: Hoping to make my mark

Dane Vilas goes on the attack during Lancashire's defeat to Yorkshire at Old Trafford on TuesdayDane Vilas goes on the attack during Lancashire's defeat to Yorkshire at Old Trafford on Tuesday
Dane Vilas goes on the attack during Lancashire's defeat to Yorkshire at Old Trafford on Tuesday
It's been a bit of a stop-start month for me really, to be honest. It has been frustrating not to be involved in the last few one-day games.

In three or four games I’ve not had much of an opportunity or much to do, batting down the order and not bowling.

I just need to make things work for me if I get a game this week when we’re back in County Championship action against Essex at Old Trafford.

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I can take my frustration out on the pitch, it’s the best way to do it at any level – get in and score runs.

I did well and got a score against Surrey at the end of April but it’s been a bit quiet in recent weeks.

I’d challenge anyone to guess the side for the game against Essex.

There are different ways we could go with spin and seam or an extra batsman.

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It’s going to be a tough side to pick, and those players who do get the nod I’m sure will want to do well knowing people are very close behind them.

We’ve got a lot of players in form and we’ll be looking to come away with a win.

I’ve spoken about Haseeb Hameed before.

He was out of form in the Championship and got runs for the seconds, as has Rob Jones, and the bowling unit all seem to be fit at the moment.

It would be nice to get in that XI on Saturday to try and kickstart the season again.

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It will be good to get back to the Championship after the run of One-Day Cup games we’ve had.

We finished the first set of games on a high against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge and now we’re playing the current champions at home.

It will be a great challenge. We had a good game with them down there before coming up just short and hopefully we can put in a good performance.

The 50-over stuff ended with our record-breaking defeat to Yorkshire.

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It was a brilliant game to watch and it was just unfortunate we were on the losing side.

It was a great advert for 50-over cricket.

The batsmen dominated and we were just disappointed we didn’t have an out-and-out batsman there at the end to help see us over the line.

But chasing a total like 380, we had to go quite hard throughout the innings.

To get that total to win a game you do need a bit of luck at times and for everything to go your way.

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Fielding first we put down a few catches and then you need to take a lot of risks over an extended period of time with the bat.

You ideally need someone to get a big hundred as well but we got close without doing that.

It was always going to be a tough task for the lower-order batters but they gave it a really good go.

Throughout the whole competition the games we lost we were in a position to win at one point or another.

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It’s very frustrating we didn’t qualify but we played some good cricket and we have to learn from that when the T20 starts.

No team really dominated us at all and we had opportunities to get enough positive results to make the knockout stages.

Going forward, we’re playing some very positive cricket and we just need to put the mistakes right.

With not being involved for Lancs, I had a run out for Lytham against Bootle on Saturday.

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Unfortunately, it didn’t go so well, we got bowled out for 105 and they knocked them off without losing a wicket.

It wasn’t ideal but it was nice to get a game and meet up with the lads.

It was my first game for them this year and it’s a good environment to go and play cricket in. It’s good to be hosting a T20 game there for my testimonial year on July 4.

We’ve then got a T10 tournament at Blackpool organised on August 2 which should be exciting.

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It’s my XI against a 
Northern League XI, a Palace Shield team and a Liverpool Competition XI.

This week it’s good to have David Lloyd supporting my testimonial with a lunch at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester.

What comes through all the time is his passion for Lancashire cricket, despite what he’s gone on to do.

He’s always up to date with what’s happening, even down to the seconds, and it was the same when I was coming through the ranks.

You think he’s a commentator doing the Sky stuff but he’s still got a strong connection with the county, which is great to see.