Lancashire future in safe hands with emerging youngsters

Lancashire future in safe hands with emerging youngsters

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Subscribers to the teachings of the late, great philosopher Whitney Houston will tell you that the children are our future.

It’s a philosophy that Lancashire have adopted to in their bid to climb back to the summit of the County Championship that they last reached in 2011.

Now, it may be poetic license to label the younger members of Lancashire’s squad as ‘children’ but let’s go with it. For the club have made a deliberate decision to trust in the crop of youngsters who have risen through the ranks at Old Trafford and are now starting to make an impression on the first team.

Head coach Ashley Giles and his fellow coaches chose not to bring in an experienced batsmen to replace the departing Ashwell Prince this season, trusting in their younger batsmen to score them the runs needed to stay in the top flight – having suffered relegation in their last two Division One seasons.

And in their opening County Championship fixture of the season, at home to Nottinghamshire, there have been signs that the faith may have been well placed.

On the first day, 19-year-old opening batsman Haseeb Hameed saw off a testing 19 overs at the end of the day with great resolve and an assurance that bodes well for his future at the top of the order.

While he was dismissed the following morning for just 18, there were signs of the quality that the Lancashire coaches have clearly seen in him.

The 22-year-old Liam Livingstone, on first-class debut, top-scored with an impressive 70 in the first innings against a quality Nottinghamshire attacking featuring Stuart Broad and in-form Jake Ball.

And Livingstone was ably supported in that batting effort by 21-year-old wicket-keeper batsman Alex Davies, whose 55 was crucial in earning Lancashire a first innings lead.

So it’s a solid start to a season in which Giles is hoping his leading youngsters can come to the fore and make their mark on the county circuit. But it reflects a wider trend across cricket and indeed across sport.

Lancashire are looking across the Pennines at what Yorkshire are achieving with this golden generation of talent that has come through at the club.

Back-to-back County Championship titles have been won off the back of the emergence of the likes of Adam Lyth, Alex Lees, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Jack Leaning and others, all of whom are in their early to mid twenties and all whom have, or will soon, been recognised by England.

Yorkshire have trusted their talent and been rewarded handsomely, and it’s the model that Lancashire, and others, are looking to follow.

Stride half a mile down the road to the ‘other’ Old Trafford and you’ll find a similar story. In a season of strife for Manchester United, the emergence of a number of young talents has been the bright spark and has provided hope for the future.

United are desperately seeking to replicate the success that their famous ‘class of 92’, when a bright bunch of talent broke through and formed the backbone of domestic and European success for the next 20 years.

It’s an intriguing trend in modern sport. With more money in football, the financial playing field has been levelled, moving the battle for supremacy from the boardroom to the academy fields. It’s similar in cricket.

There’s no better way of finding value for money than creating your own world class talents and Lancashire are backing this exciting bunch of youngsters to lead them into a bright future.

It’s said that the ‘class of 92’ crop of youngsters only happens once, twice if you’re lucky, in a generation. The rest of county cricket will be hoping that Yorkshire’s production line is running out of talent, giving the likes of Lancashire the chance to regain some ground.

They are certainly giving it a chance to flourish. The only way to develop players is to trust them and to play them at the highest level. Giles has placed his faith in this generation and they are being given the opportunity to prove their talent.

After all, as Whitney told us, teach them well and let them lead the way.

And if the likes of Hameed, Livingstone and Davies can help Lancashire knock Yorkshire off their perch, they will be every Lancastrian’s ‘greatest love of all’.

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