Exclusive Steven Croft cricket column
It was a bit of a freak morning with 12 wickets falling for hardly any runs on the final day of our game against Nottinghamshire.
Looking back at the time you might think if we could have got 100 we might have won the game.
Going into the last day we wanted a draw with being behind but it was one of those things.
The pitch had something in it throughout the game.
The first couple of days it was doing it a lot of slower and then it seemed to do more but at a bit more of a pace.
The first day was washed out and then on the second day we knew were going to be stuck in and we found it tough.
They bowled well but 150 was below what we wanted, 200 would have been more competitive.
Then they were slightly above par and exploited the best of the conditions in the third innings.
It was one of those mornings where everything seemed to hit the edge of the bat or we missed.
Before the game started we knew we were going to be slightly up against it with the new toss rule.
The visiting team can opt to bowl if they want or it’s a toss of the coin. It was brought in to stop clubs preparing really green tracks and on the whole it has made the standard of wickets better throughout the country.
But I feel that rule is a disadvantage for grounds like Old Trafford where we always try and prepare the best cricket wicket.
I don’t think a coin was tossed throughout the country. Playing away you’ve almost got an advantage where as I think in any game you should have a slight home advantage.
Three out of our four games are at home early season as well when it tends to do a bit.
We’ll have to get our heads around it and play better cricket I suppose.
It wasn’t the ideal start but hopefully we’ll bounce back this week down at Essex where we’ll have the slight advantage with that toss rule.
We’re in for some good weather but there’s been some bad weather around this week so it might do a little bit in the first innings.
They also haven’t played this week, there wasn’t a ball bowled at Headingley in their game against Yorkshire.
Teams have also struggled as champions in the past.
When we did it in 2012 we went down, Yorkshire have done it, Notts have done it. There are a few teams that haven’t been able to maintain that standard the year after.
We had two good games with Essex last year and we were the only side they didn’t beat in the County Championship.
We had the season opener against them and the weather probably saved them and it was similar in the game at home.
It was almost two wins that got away from us and they were probably the only games where someone was on top of them last year.
If we’d have got those two wins then who knows, it could have been a tighter run-in and it could have swung our way.
I think it’s going to be really tight this year and I don’t think you can really say there are going to be a top few and there are going to be a bottom few.
I imagine it’s all going to be up and down throughout the season.
Anyone can win it and anyone can go down. The carrott’s there and we’re looking towards the top rather than bottom.
Off the field I’m getting stuck into plans for my testimonial year.
We’ve got a lunch with ‘Bumble’ David Lloyd coming up at he Lowry Hotel on June 7 which is the next big event.
I should be confirming a darts event soon and I’m looking at doing matches at Blackpool and Lytham.
It’s great to be supporting Brian House Children’s Hospice and the PCA’s Benevolent Fund
I think the hospice have to raise more than a million pounds through people’s goodwill.
You hear about the word hospice and you think it’s going to be like a hospital but it’s the opposite.
It’s a really fun place. It’s an amazing charity and I wanted to support something local to me. The PCA is another charity that’s close to me.
They look after past and present players really well and also their families.
The work they’ve done over the last few years is quite incredible. I’m lucky as a cricketer to have that as a back-up. It’s a short career at times and they’ve always got your back.