Following Lancashire's relegation from Division One of the County Championship Mike Watkinson, the club's director of cricket, has resigned his post ending a 32-year association with the club, reports the Lancashire Telegraph.
Watkinson has served Lancashire with distinction since making his debut as a player. During his playing career for the Red Rose Watkinson scored over 10,000 runs and took more than 700 wickets and also had a spell as captain. Watkinson also received international recognition, albeit late in his career, and played four Tests and one One-Day international for England.
During his playing days Watkinson achieved plenty of team success. Lancashire, viewed as one of the best domestic one-day teams, won nine one-day trophies during his career and Watkinson was a key player for the county during this period. He was equally adept at both formats of the game but many will probably earmark one-day cricket as his forte.
After ending his playing days Watkinson became Lancashire's coach and then, in 2008, he was appointed Lancashire's director of cricket.
It was during this time, in 2011, that Watkinson oversaw the club's march to their first outright Championship title for 77 years. At the time this was seen as a huge step in the right direction for the club.
However, after two relegations in three years, the 53-year-old is now seeking a fresh challenge in his career particularly after a large proportion of members demanded change from the very top of the cricket club. Their wishes have now come true.
So where could Watkinson end up? He has plenty of experience for any county to want to tap into and he also has international coaching experience after assisting Duncan Fletcher during his England tenure. Watkinson may benefit and want a more hands on role again and if so I don’t expect him to be out of the game for too long.
So who will replace Watkinson at Lancashire and who will be their new coach? Early predictions are that Ashley Giles could take up one of the roles. He has been out of the game since losing his England ODI job at the beginning of the summer and I think will be itching to become involved in the game once again.
He was director of cricket at Warwickshire and may feel that a similar role with Lancashire is his preference after his brief spell with England. Glenn Chapple could decide that the full-time coaching role is for him but if so he will probably need to end his playing days to take up the role. Or will Lancashire look abroad for a coach? They may cast an eye over the Pennines and see the impact that Jason Gillespie has had at Yorkshire and see this as the way forward for them.
Lancashire now need to perform a root and branch post-mortem of their season and rebuild during the winter in order to mount a promotion challenge next season. However, they also need to make the right appointments for their club and not rush into anything.
Will they place their faith in their strong youth set-up and give youth a chance? This may mean that the players will need to learn as they play and ultimately a period of second division Championship cricket could be on the cards but, if this is what it takes to ensure the future of Lancashire County Cricket Club is bright, then so be it.
It is hard to watch a great club like Lancashire struggle but I am sure, in the face of adversity, they will pull together and make the right decisions that will ultimately return the club to former glories.
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