Croft: Blast success “a long time coming”

Croft: Blast success “a long time coming”

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Steven Croft celebrates a dismissal in the semi-final

Lancashire captain Steven Croft was delighted to finally get his hands on the t20 trophy after completing his tenth full season in a row by captaining his side to the title at Edgbaston, beating Hampshire in the semi-final before knocking off Northants in the final.

The Red Rose County were competing at their sixth Finals Day, and reached the final for the third time, but despite having won the most games out of any county in t20 history, had never previously lifted the trophy.

However, they put those stats to rest with a pair of clinical performances, bowling out Hampshire for 115, before an all-round team performance saw them control the final throughout, eventually winning by 13 runs.

Croft, who has now played 118 consecutive t20 matches for Lancashire, was proud of his own personal record and said picking up the trophy was up there with the County Championship triumph in 2011.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “We’ve played some great t20 cricket, we’ve won the most games in the group stage but to finally get our hands on the trophy we’re very pleased and very proud.

“It’s been a great squad effort, not just this season but seasons gone by, we’ve put some great squads together and put into place a great team and just really pleased that we’ve finally got our hands on that trophy.

“I know it’s only 12 years since the competition started but every preseason we’d get questioned whether we are going to win it this year and we’ll be glad to have them next year with our name on the trophy, it’s right up there with the Championship win [winning Division One in 2011], with lots of home grown players as well.

“It’s topped my tenth season in a row quite nicely, the game has changed a bit and I think we’ve all had to change our games as well, I remember my debut I was a lower order batsman who bowled seam, but it’s something I’m quite proud of to play that long and keep kit and keep form and just a pleasure to put a performance in for the lads.”

Lancashire got to the final 12 months ago, narrowly losing out to Birmingham in the final, and lost a number of key players with Junaid Khan not returning, Kabir Ali and Andrew Flintoff retiring, whilst club captain Tom Smith has missed the entire campaign this year with a back injury.

However the final saw youngsters Alex Davies and Gavin Griffiths, the later who made his t20 debut in the semi-final, put in big performances, and Croft said it would be a great experience for his young players to lift the trophy so early in their careers.

“We lost some important players with Tom Smith the captain, he obviously opened the batting and we lost our two opening bowlers Junaid Khan and Kabir Ali and they’re massive spots in t20 cricket, it was no doubt we were going to miss them but Jimmy Faulkner’s two players in one really.

“We probably didn’t start the tournament how we wanted, it was a build of momentum, we played some good cricket but then game after game we got stronger and the players got more experienced.

“Obviously we’d lost big players but we still had a lot of match winners out there, we had every faith in the bowlers as well, the slow department we’ve very blessed in that, the seamer struggled to find their feat early but they got it right at the end.

“There’s quite a few debuts this year and for them to win the trophy in their first year, they’re going to take a lot of confidence out of it, people like Liam Livingstone, Alex Davies, they’re really exciting young players and I think they’ll just go from strength to strength.”

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