Lancs Chief Exec praises S&B

Lancashire chief-executive Daniel Gidney has praised “unbelievably proactive” Southport and Birkdale officials while also admitting that he believes the county could not have completed their fixtures in their title-winning season of 2011 without the help of Liverpool CC.

On the eve of the announcement that Lancashire have been awarded both an Ashes Test and a World Cup semi-final in 2019, the backing of the Emirates Old Trafford boss will come a fillip to both the outgrounds and the Med Imaging Liverpool Competition hierarchy as they enjoy a very brief Christmas break before preparations for the new season gather pace in the New Year.

Outground cricket is really important for us,” said Gidney, “for although Old Trafford is our heart and our home, we have to recognise that we’re not Manchester CC, we’re Lancashire CC.

“Before I was officially appointed I was contacted randomly by three or four people from my past, all of whom said that I must make sure that there’s county cricket at Southport.

“It soon became clear that outgrounds matter very much to our membership and we need to remember that we have people who travel from all over the county.”

Lancashire have invested heavily in upgrading Liverpool’s fine facilities recently, particularly prior to the 2011 season, when all the county’s Championship games had to be played away from Old Trafford. However, Gidney was surprised by the dynamism and determination of chairman Tony Elwood and his S&B team.

“The people at Southport are unbelievably proactive,” he said. “All the outgrounds are great and we have partnerships with all of them but the Southport guys go way beyond what I would call normal support.

“They really demonstrated to us that they wanted a four-day fixture.”

But however great the zeal shown by Elwood & Co., it was still a big call for Lancashire to choose to play a first-class game at Trafalgar Road next season.

“Liverpool have hosted a game in all but one of the last 13 seasons and the Southport people did a brilliant job two seasons ago,” said Gidney. “They were unlucky when they weren’t allotted one last year but they didn’t mope about that.

“So the decision we took had nothing to do with what Liverpool had or hadn’t done, it was more to do with the fact that Southport had gone two years without a game and we thought they deserved an opportunity.”

“At the same time, let’s not forget that Liverpool did an amazing job for us in 2011 when the square was being turned round. Without Liverpool, we couldn’t have completed our fixtures but the fact that we’ve spent money there shouldn’t mean that we use it for every game that’s not at Old Trafford, especially when you’ve got both Southport and Blackpool also saying they can host games.”

Both Liverpool and Blackpool will host Royal London One-Day Cup matches next season and it is not unthinkable that Lancashire may play a couple of first-class games away from Old Trafford in the future, depending on the ground’s international commitments in what already looks to be a very busy 2019

“I think it’s possible that we could take two away, “ said Gidney, “but we have to bear in mind that we’ve invested £45m in Emirates Old Trafford and we want to use it as much as possible.”