Steven Croft is backing Liam Livingstone, his replacement as Lancashire’s captain, to shine in his new role.
All-rounder Croft, who now returns to the ranks to concentrate on his own game, believes he has left the county in a better place than it was when he took on the job nearly three years ago.
In 2015, he skippered the side for the majority of the season as a replacement for injured Chorley ace Tom Smith before having the next two years as the full-time leader.
“I feel we’re going the right way as a club,” said the 33-year-old from Blackpool. “In 2015, we got promoted in the Championship and won a trophy in the T20. The following year, we stayed up, which we hadn’t done previously. Last year, we finished second.
“I feel I’ve left it in a good place, and I’m proud of what we achieved as a club in the three years.
“I think we’re in a better place now than we were. The younger lads back then have got more experience now.
“One of those is Liam, who has had a phenomenal rise, and I think he will be a great captain.
“He had some good experience of it in the four-day games last year, and I think he will do well full time.
“We have recruited well in terms of the players we’ve brought in – Graham Onions, Keaton Jennings and the two overseas lads (Joe Mennie and James Faulkner). But the lads we already have matured as well.
“A couple of years ago, some lads hadn’t played first-class cricket. But they have now and done very well, the likes of Liam and Alex Davies. They have a couple of seasons under their belt and are key players now.
“Then we have somebody like Saqib Mahmood, who has had some good experience with us and the Lions.”
Croft, Lancashire’s beneficiary this year, wanted to continue as captain into 2018, but insists he will put personal disappointment behind him and help Livingstone settle into the role.
“We’ve had a conversation, and I’ll be there for him in whatever capacity is needed,” he said. “We’re all in it to make Lancashire a better team and to win things.”
The change of captaincy came about given that Croft is not a certain starter in Championship cricket this year. He scored 409 runs from nine appearances last season.
And while he left himself out briefly during the second half of the campaign, he did return positively for the last three games.
“To finish second in the Championship was very good,” he said. “Limited overs cricket, we had a blip – we should have done better.
“Personally, it should have gone better. But, at the back end of the season, I had a bit of a mental shift. I top-scored in all three games in the first innings. It was nice to finish with a hundred in the last game against Surrey.”