Lancashire captain Glen Chapple believes the tense finish to last season’s LV= County Championship title race will stand his side in good stead as they defend their crown.
The Red Rose won the championship outright for the first time in 77 years with a dramatic run chase to beat Somerset on the last day of the season.
They begin their defence against Sussex and Liverpool next Thursday and Chapple said: “The whole campaign last year was a terrific experience, winning so many games was a great achievement.
“To get over the line is the next step and to do that gives you further belief.
“I think we’ve got that belief now, due to the squad that we’ve got and also with it being so close at the end, to win it under extreme pressure is really valuable.
“Last year was a great thing but it’s what we do this year that counts. I think it will be very similar to last season with the added bonus of knowing what we can achieve. We’re a young team and we’re a year further down the line.”
Head coach Peter Moores expects strong competition throughout the first division, with last season’s nearest challengers Warwickshire and Durham again to the fore, as his side bid to retain their title.
“We’ll have to play well,” said the former England coach.
“Durham will be strong again because they’ve got a strong batting line-up. Nottinghamshire have changed a few things but that often brings a new freshness to it, and Warwickshire I expect to be competitive again.
“How Middlesex and Surrey do coming up will be interesting as well, I think Middlesex might be quite a competitive side.”
Moores’ side warmed up for the new campaign with an impressive win in the season curtain-raiser against an MCC XI in Abu Dhabi, the end of a successful tour of the United Arab Emirates.
And he said: “As a squad I think we’ve moved forward, you don’t really know until you start playing but I was impressed with how we worked in the winter and how we approached each game, we looked like we were in pretty good shape.”
They next face the Cambridge University team in a three-day fixture, starting tomorrow, and Moores added: “This next week is quite important, to get outside in England on grass.”
Of course, the congested modern calendar means there is more to life than simply competing once again in the four-day game.
Lancashire reached the Friends Life t20 semi-finals last season and Moores is keen for further limited-overs success.
“I think we’ve got a squad to compete on all three fronts,” he said. “We’d also like to do well in the (Clydesdale Bank) 40, which is not really a competition we’ve set alight the last couple of years.
“The tough thing for the CB40 is that often it backs onto the end of a Championship game so we monitor things quite carefully, sometimes you don’t play somebody because the risk of him getting injured is too high, so you have to use your squad.
“A lot of our players are developing quite quickly, who didn’t play as much last season, so the people you bring in are getting better and you can stay competitive.”