Domestic professional cricket is something that such a small percentage of people who care about actually see. So accounts like this one from Graham Hardcastle and Chris Ostick are valuable and damn enjoyable. Not only does it cover the nuances of each undulation in fortunes over the season, but it takes you through the human lives of the players who ended Lancashire's 77-year quest for the County Championship. At the same time as Lancashire fans were biting their nails at a fascinating conclusion, Hardcastle and Ostick speak to the whole squad and bring unrivalled insight, making Lancashire heroes human people and not just sportsmen. Their player profiles place the matches into a whole new context and give an extra dimension that was gripping enough the first time around.
It is a polished, slick and enjoyable read, well illustrated in a way that follows the journey and accompanies the text perfectly. For fans of Lancashire, it is a must-have memory of a glorious year but for any fan of cricket, to read an account of what it takes to win a title will not disappoint.There's a champion county every year but champion accounts are rare. This is one such instance though and one that should be treasured.
And what an amazing achievement by a team of relative unknowns. Limiting myself to players I have seen play (most of them live), how is this for a team of illustrious Lancashire players without a championship: Atherton, Fowler, Law, C. Lloyd, Fairbrother, Engineer, Flintoff, Wasim Akram, Higgs, Statham, Muralitharan? There is nobody in the current team who would come close to getting into that XI. I would never have forgotten that last afternoon - I have to admit my productivity at work wasn't as good as it should have been because of keeping track of the scores on Cricinfo - but the book was great at reminding me of the other key moments throughout the season. And it was interesting to read that early in their history Lancashire used to play nearly half their home matches at Aigburth. As a Scouser it makes it all the sweeter that the title finally came when Old Trafford was out of action. I just sort of wish that I had been living in Liverpool, ideally unemployed, during the summer of 2011.