The White Stripes
I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself
Mark Pennell, Thursday 12th July 2012 22:34
Famed for its Tower Ballroom, pleasure beach, donkey rides and saucy postcards, Blackpool may yet prove to be the town that provides Lancashire with their next captain. Steven Croft, a 27-year-old right-handed batsman, is being widely touted to succeed the veteran Glen Chapple as the county champions' next leader and Croft will only have improved his prospects with an unbeaten hundred against Surrey – his second century of this rain-blighted summer.
When showers arrived at 3pm to ultimately force an early finish some 90 minutes later, Croft remained unbeaten and unfazed with 104 to his name, having been at the crease for almost four hours. Burly and robust in his batting stance, his no-nonsense technique is similar to that of the England wicketkeeper Matt Prior, and Surrey became the latest side to feel the might of Croft's bat with a dozen boundaries in his fifth first-class hundred.
The innings also helped restore Lancashire's grip on events at the well-appointed Woodbridge Road out-ground where, at one point in the opening session, the visitors had threatened to seize control by taking three wickets in 12 overs. South Africa's Test batsman Ashwell Prince started the minor collapse by tossing away his wicket after misadventure got the better of him when facing the left-arm spin of Murali Kartik. Advancing down the pitch with ambitions to loft a straight drive over the bowler's head, the left-hander heaved across the line of the ball having been bamboozled by flight and picked out the fielder at deep midwicket.
Tom Smith was also culpable in his own demise. With his score on seven he set off expecting more than a mere single from a crisp off-drive, only to see Zander de Bruyn swoop and uproot middle stump with his direct hit and defeat Smith's valiant full-length dive at the non-striker's end.
When Gareth Cross wastefully swatted a Stuart Meaker long-hop into the hands of Zafar Ansari at square leg, Lancashire were in danger of undoing their good work of day one. But Croft, and the man he may yet succeed as team leader, had other ideas. Chapple was first to show counter-attacking intentions with a pull for six off Meaker to a similar delivery that accounted for Cross.
The seventh-wicket partners added 50 in 10.1 overs to break Surrey's stranglehold and had improved their stand to 121 before Chapple went leg-before for 46 when playing across a straight one from Jonathan Lewis. Croft was in no mood for such imprudence, though, and was still playing each ball on its merits when the heavens opened to force the early close.
Not that rain has been a stranger to Lancashire this season. To date, the 2011 championship pennant winners have lost 1,048 overs to inclement weather, as opposed to 234 last season. Perhaps they should play more often in sunny Blackpool?