Great Days in Lancashire Cricket – A Personal Journey

Published: 2020
Pages: 28
Author: Brodkin, Stuart
Publisher: Red Rose Books
Rating: 4 stars

Stuart Brodkin is a fortunate man indeed. He has earned a living from watching and writing about sport, and as a result his working hours enabled him to indulge a passion for watching Lancashire play cricket. Of course over the years that privilege has no doubt given him a few disappointments, and I dare say he has worked his way through more than his fair share of umbrellas and raincoats, but watching great cricket matches more than makes up for the odd privation or two, and in this small booklet Brodkin chooses eight of them.

The selection of matches is a varied one. Of the many Lancashire have appeared in there is however just a single Lord’s final, that of the 1971 Gillette Cup. As an eleven year old watching on television I well remember the disappointment as, thanks to what seemed to be an unstoppable charge from Kent’s Asif Iqbal, the Red Rose began to look down and out. And then our skipper Jack Bond pulled off what was, for the time, a quite stunning one handed catch as he threw himself to his right at extra cover, and the tide turned back in our favour.

A second match is chosen from the same campaign, five weeks beforehand in the semi-final when Lancashire had beaten Gloucestershire in the ‘lamplight game’. Once again staring defeat in the face, so much so that even the irrepressible Bond had apparently already conceded to umpire ‘Dickie’ Bird that the game was lost, deep into the evening David Hughes took 24 runs from a John Mortimore over. Unlike this reviewer, watching on the television with the enhanced visibility the cameras gave, Brodkin was there in the gathering gloom that Hughes was batting in.

There is then a gap of more than twenty years until May 1993 when, again before television cameras, Lancashire played Surrey in the first round of the Benson and Hedges Cup. The game looked over when the home side were 212-1 needing only another 25 to win. Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe were in charge, with four more England batsmen to come. They didn’t make it though, all out for 230.

The greatest day of all was, of course, at Taunton on Thursday 15 September 2011. I was ready to take the three hour drive down the M4 at 7.30 that morning but the prospect of victory seemed so remote I bottled it. I console myself with the thought that if I had gone, and joined Brodkin at the County Ground, events would have unfolded differently, and that by not travelling I played my part in bringing the 77 years of hurt to an end.

To go with those four choices there is a win over Scotland in the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy in 2006, bowling Essex out for 20 in the Championship in 2013, our (so far) only success on T20 Finals Day in 2015 and, last but not least, a Championship fixture in 2018 against Worcestershire at Southport when Josh Bohannon, playing in only his second First Class match, helped Dane Vilas reach a distinctly improbable looking fourth innings target.

What makes these eight accounts so readable is that they are written by the Lancashire supporter in Brodkin, and fully convey the excitement and joy that brought with it, but at the same time with the skill of the professional journalist. It is most definitely a winning combination.

Great Days in Lancashire Cricket – A Personal Journey is available from publisher Red Rose Books at the modest cost of £7.99 inclusive of UK postage and packing – there are only 100 copies though, so given the number of Lancashire supporters there are out there an early purchase is recommended. A rating? Left to my own devices it would have been five stars, but I don’t want to be accused of being anything other than entirely objective, so perhaps I’d best say four instead.

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