It’s been anything but boring at Lancashire this summer – the departure of Peter Moores, the return of Andrew Flintoff, a trip to T20 Final’s Day, and now a final day relegation-deciding clash at home to Middlesex.
But how will 2014 be remembered in history as a success or failure? Will that is likely to depend on the outcome of this week’s final round of County Championship Division One fixtures.
The red rose county have failed to really find their feet in the longer format of the game and that wasn’t helped by the early loss of Peter Moores. The Head Coach left Lancashire in April to embark on his second tenure with England, departing with his side bottom of the County Championship.
His final game in charge was a draw against Warwickshire – who were 25 runs shy of victory – and was seen at the time as a good result, but now a win from that game could have been very handy.
Just the three wins, and a paltry 27 bonus batting points – which only eclipses that of a terrible Northamptonshire – leaves the club on the brink of relegation. They trail Middlesex by 19 points and must win at Old Trafford this week and hope that they can restrict the number of bonus points their opponents can accumulate.
But while it is all doom and gloom in the four-day game, the shortest format of the sport provided Lancashire with their most success this summer.
Aside from a trip to Final’s Day, the highlight has arguably been the return – and resurgence – of Andrew Flintoff. And those two aspects of their season were nearly fused together perfectly at Edgbaston in August.
Flintoff’s dismissal of Ian Bell with his very first delivery was then followed up with an unbeaten knock of 20 runs from eight balls, which took his side within five runs of victory.
But now the prospect of relegation threatens to derail all the hope and optimism that built on that midsummer evening when the former England international looked to be somewhere near to his best once again.
Next year could see him return again, but it remains to see if he could manage to get through a game longer than 20 overs a side.
Some Flintoff-esque performances will certainly be required from Glenn Chapple’s players if they are to pull off the great escape in Manchester this week though.
They need to surpass 400 in their first innings, limit Middlesex to less than five bonus points and force a winning result, all whilst praying that the rain stays away.
However, they have kept the chance of survival alive until the final day, and anything can happen in sport.