Crawley answers critics

Lancashire 600-6 dec Northamptonshire 218-3
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The Independent Online

A jewel on top of a fairly hefty dungheap, John Crawley's marvellous innings was distracting but could not be entirely disassociated from its unpleasant background.

The ovation as the Lancashire captain walked off after scoring 280 off 399 balls was loud and long, but Crawley has been on the wrong end of some vitriolic criticism from the Lancashire members in recent weeks, and while he has never been a demonstrative player – one of his problems as a captain – he made only the briefest acknowledgement.

Point made, though he must also have been disappointed at getting out only six short of his career best, and with Jason Gallian's ground record 312 within sight.

Crawley's state of mind was evident in his comments before resuming his innings after the start was delayed by rain.

"I don't mind criticism, it is a game of opinions," he said. "The only thing that riles me is we have got people on the committee who work in the media and are supposed to support the club, but they did not do that."

He declined to elaborate, though Channel 4 commentator and Lancashire committee member Paul Allott left viewers in no doubt what he thought about Crawley's decision to bat first in Lancashire's losing Cheltenham and Gloucester semi-final at Leicester earlier this week.

In point of fact the captaincy is just one of many problems at Old Trafford this season. A new coach and overseas player are also on the agenda, though as Crawley pointed out, it would help if all concerned pulled together in ensuring relegation was avoided first. Thereafter, he intimated, he will have as much to say as anyone.

Warren Hegg's form with the bat has been one of Lancashire's few highlights this season, and the veteran wicketkeeper gave Crawley aggressive support, passing 50 for the seventh time this season.

A Lancashire win is not assured however; no able batsman should be easily dismissed on this wicket, and it was a considerable surprise when the prolific Mike Hussey fell leg before sweeping at Chris Schofield when seven runs short of a fourth championship hundred.