After the 237 run defeat by Warwickshire that left Lancashire in danger of relegation, Director of Cricket Ashley Giles spoke about the loss and reflected on his team’s season while he waited to find out their fate.
As it happened, of course, Lancashire avoided the drop thanks to Durham who defeated Hampshire to send the south coast county down to division two.
“There was no lack of effort from the lads against Warwickshire, but we got beaten by a better team,” Giles said, “The wicket started to wear and dry out, and Jeetan Patel is the best spinner in the country so it was going to be tough. We put up a fight but we were never going to get close.
There has always been a big debate about ‘youth vs experience’ and Giles’ admitted that the Lancashire team do still have a little way to go.
“This is a tough division. Look at that Bears’ team: 85-90% of them are over thirty and have probably all played more than 100 matches. They are an experienced and high quality team. We can’t match our team man for man with Warwickshire or Middlesex.
“As we’ve shown, we almost matched them but we’ve come up a bit short. A defeat like this hurts and we have to learn from the experience and get better. The players are a willing bunch; and though I can be quite hard on them, it’s for the right reasons.
“We’ve been able to blood some youngsters who’ve put in some good performances. The players will be better for this experience next year.
The counter to that argument however is the debate about homegrown players; they can prove extremely valuable.
“This match, we’ve had ten home grown players which feels good. Tom Bailey looks to be a bright spark. He’s had a couple of five wicket hauls, so he’s someone for the future.
“And you can’t question how Haseeb has come on this year, as has Rob Jones. Jordan Clark is still relatively inconsistent, but shows signs of becoming a genuine all-rounder.
“People may point a finger in my direction for not replacing Neil Wagner when he left us; then Alviro (Petersen) went back to South Africa and we’ve had no Jos Buttler and no James Anderson.
“But some of those things you couldn’t plan for. When Wagner left, there weren’t too many options and I’ve never been one for signing someone just to show you’re doing something.
“But we have lacked some penetration. Anderson made a big difference to the confidence of everyone at the beginning of the season when he played and bowlers win you championships. You need to bowl sides out. Kyle Jarvis has bowled well, but he’s almost falling apart. He’s had sore shins, a sore back and now a sore arm but he’s kept going.
“At the start of next season, we could have a side with Jimmy, Haseeb, Jos and an overseas man and things could look very different. But right now, with respect to the team, it does lack real quality and experience.
“As for bringing in new players before next season, it depends what’s out there. You always want to strengthen the squad with the right people, but it mustn’t be to the detriment of the people we’ve got. We could have brought someone in to replace Paul Horton – or kept him – and Haseeb would still be lingering around playing second team cricket. Instead, he’s on an England tour.
“I hope people will take a wider view. There are some supporters who say it’s really good to see young lads playing with the Red Rose on their shirts and being proud.
“And then there are some who want us to win the championship every year. That doesn’t happen.
“You have to have the pain to build something that’s good.”