Steven Croft of Blackpool focuses on all formats and a big season for Lancashire
Steven Croft’s coaching career is developing nicely at Lancashire but right now the Blackpool all-rounder is focusing on a big season out in the middle.
Croft is embarking on his 17th season in the Red Rose senior squad as the County Championship campaign gets under way against Sussex at Emirates Old Trafford today.
At 36, it’s only right the Lancashire stalwart should be planning the next stage of his career but for now his thoughts are on keeping his place in all formats.
He told The Gazette: “First and foremost I want to get in the side and be in form. I’m coming to the back end of my playing career but my cricket is in a really good place.
“I’ve started to make my next move towards coaching. I’m working with the younger lads but I want to continue playing for a year or two.
“I’ve coached over the past four or winters now and have done my ECB level four. It’s gone hand in hand with playing and I’ve always kept an eye open for the future.
“But this season I hope to contribute in all formats again. I did pretty well in a shortened season last year.”
As usual expectations for Lancashire are high, with a star-studded side and some eye-catching new recruits.
And Croft sees plenty of causes for optimism: “Yes, with the squad we have assembled I would put us up there as one of the stronger teams.
“And if we have the weather on our side and the other bits of luck you need, we have a chance of success.
“The competition is healthy already, with more players to come in, and that depth can only be good for the squad.
“There will be players disappointed and selection will be tough.
“It’s been a long winter and pre-season with not going away, but we’ve been lucky to spend time together training indoors as elite sportsmen. We’re raring to go.”
The County Championship format has been tweaked this season, with the counties in three groups of six and each playing 10 matches.
Croft is comfortable with the new structure, adding: “The games will come thick and fast. There’s the local rivalry with Yorkshire in our group and there’s still a chance to play for the Bob Willis Trophy at the end of the season.
“You you have to do well from the off if you want to finish top. There’s no time to ease yourself in. You’ll have to be bang at it from day one.”
As for rising stars Croft is looking forward to seeing continue their development this season, he listed several: “We saw a bit of Luke Wood last year and he will be a great addition. And also from Notts, Jack Blatherwick has impressed me.
“Then we’ve got the likes of Josh Bohannon and Rob Jones, who are still early in their careers but already have a couple of good years behind them.”
However, injury will prevent his fellow Blackpool-born teammate Richard Gleeson from appearing in the early stages of the season, a shame for the seamer who got his name in the England frame last year.
“Ric was really hitting his straps last year and when he is fit selection will be a real headache,” Croft said.
“He is one of the quickest around and he’s going to come back into a really strong side. He will be a great asset.”
Croft still keeps in touch with the Fylde coast scene and could turn out for Lytham again in the Liverpool Competition on his weekends off.
“I’m still local at Lytham and could play some club cricket for them again this summer,” he said.
“I keep in touch with the guys at Blackpool and they are investing in the ground. It’s looking positive for Lancashire to go back in the future, even if it doesn’t happen this year.
“I know everyone on the Fylde is looking forward to getting some cricket. A full calendar of club cricket will be great to see.
“Hopefully they will keep the numbers up and the kids involved, and we’ll continue to have some great clubs on the Fylde coast.”
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