Steven Croft column: Now our attention turns to shorter form and T20 Blast

I've been in the runs and wickets for the seconds this week which has been nice.

Friday, 29th June 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th July 2018, 6:19 pm
Australian all-rounder James Faulkner will be back with Lancashire for this summers T20 Blast competition

I was obviously very disappointed to miss out on the squad again for the County Championship game against Hampshire but I’ve had a good run-out.

It’s the only real go I’ve had in the last month or so which has been nice.

The last second team game I played in at Southport was called off pretty abruptly because of the pitch so getting a full game in for the first time in a few weeks is what I needed.

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Steven Croft

The standard of second XI cricket is good and you get a good mix of guys involved.

The Warwickshire side we played were the same as us in that there were some senior players or people who have a lot of first-team experience who are fighting for their spot, there’s a few that have been dipping in and out of first-team cricket and had a little taste of it in one format or another and then there’s the academy lads or the players the club are having a look at.

You get a good blend.

It’s my job when I play to not only try and develop my game but also to help the younger lads on as well.

Having come through the academy myself I know it’s always nice to get advice from senior professionals and pick up little bits here and there.

It’s where you do a lot of your learning in cricket because you do get a lot of downtime off the field.

It’s good to talk to those younger lads about the game and spend a bit of time with the next generation.

Playing in that game will hopefully put a bit of a jolt in my season. It’s been good to be out in middle and get a few runs and take some wickets.

I’d like to think it will put me in contention for the Twenty20s which start next week.

It’s an important competition for us with the County Championship not going as well as we had hoped and having under-performed in the one-day stuff.

It’s one competition we can look at as a fresh start and something we can win.

We’ve definitely got the side for it and got the players.

It’s probably come at a good time for us and with James Faulkner coming in we’ve got a really good side for this year’s competition.

It’s something we can go into as by no means favourites but we should be up there with our past record in the competition and looking to win quite a few games.

One thing that’s been really good to see in the run up is James playing a few second team games.

He mentioned he wanted to come over early and dust off the cobwebs a bit and get some game time before the competition started.

That’s what you want from an overseas player.

There’s no ego and he’s thinking about his own game.

He’s not just thinking he’ll just come in and do the business, he wants to give himself the best chance and prepare the best way and it’s great to see and for those lads that played with him in the second team it will have been a great experience for them as well.

I’ll be warming up for the opening game against Worcestershire next Thursday with the T20 game at Lytham for my testimonial the day before.

It’s my Lancashire XI against a Lytham XI and we’ve got a good mix of players involved.

Chris Schofield who I played with early in my career is playing, there’s Oliver Newby, Ajmal Shahzad, Sajid Mahmood, Simon Kerrigan and others so there’s a good mix of lads who I started my career with and some more recent players.

I can’t take too many from the first team squad because we’ve got a second team game that day and I obviously don’t want to wear any of the lads out with the game the day after.

It’s a bit of a juggling act for me but it should be a good afternoon of cricket.

Lytham have put a lot of time and effort into it and it might come at a good time for a few of the lads to get their eye in.

I can use it as a bit of preparation and hopefully swing a few sixes over the fence!

I’m not sure it will be full throttle but the competitive nature of most lads will kick in. No-one wants to be on the losing side. It might start out quite low key before ramping up.

It’s one of those days where win or lose it will be good for the Lytham lads to play against professionals and international players and the Lancs lads will be able to get going ahead of the T20s.

Steven Croft is celebrating his testimonial year and was talking to Adam Lord