Croft spoke to James Nottage about international recognition, a change of bowling style and his hopes for the rest of the season.
You must have been delighted to be named in the 30-man provisional squad for the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka?
It feels brilliant obviously, it’s the first squad I’ve been involved in with any England set-up, including the Lions, so it’s a nice compliment. Over the last two or three seasons I’ve got a lot more consistent; it’s helped batting up the order, I’ve taken my time a little bit more in terms of building an innings rather than just going out there and seeing what happens and trying to hit the ball as hard as possible.
How do you rate your chances of making the final cut?
I don’t know to be honest; it depends on the make-up of the side they want. I can bring bowling and fielding to the side, as well as my batting. But, like you say, it’s nice to get noticed initially, and hopefully I’ll get some Twenty20s in the winter and next year.
How has your game developed over the last few years?
It’s been a bit of everything: not getting too caught up on the technical side of things and knowing my game more. If I have to face a few extra balls at the start I know I can make up for it later and that gives me a bit more time at the crease to work out what the wicket’s doing.
And you’ve switched from bowling seamers to bowling off breaks?
There was a bit of time when we were without any off spinner at the club and I dabbled in it slightly. When I was bowling medium quicks we had Kyle Hogg who’s an allrounder and Tom Smith who’s an allrounder in the side, so playing three allrounders I was generally not given a bowl. VVS Laxman was at the club at the time, I bowled a bit [of off spin] in the nets at him and he said to keep persisting with it.
Quite a player to get that recommendation from…
Yeah it really is, coming from one of the best players I’ve ever seen playing off spin.
Has it helped you play spin better as a batsman?
A little bit yes – I ended up speaking to the other three spinners at the club, the left-armers, about theories and tactics. It’s helped me captaining the side too, setting fields for the spinners. When you’re out in the middle knowing where they want to set the field and where they want to bowl, that’s helped my all-round game. I concentrate on my batting a little bit more and it’s helped me develop as a player.
You mentioned captaincy, how’ve you found skippering the side?
I’ve really enjoyed it. I got a first taste last year, which came a bit unexpectedly, and it was a massive learning curve but I got my head around it. This year I got a chance with a few CB40 and Twenty20 matches and really enjoyed it. I learnt a lot about the on field side of captaincy last year.
Lancashire haven’t had the best of seasons given the success you had last year. What do you put that down to?
We’ve still got a massive season to play, we’ve got four four-dayers left and our main aim is to stay up. In the CB40 we’re in a good position to qualify for the semis so if we do secure Division One status and then win a Lord’s final then a lot of people would take that and see it as a successful year. We’ve not had the best four-day campaign but we can stay up and put in a few good performances. We had a good game against Somerset, fought back well, and felt the rain pipped us again. It feels like one of those years really, everything went for us last year and this year it’s not so good. We want to put in some performances, get into some good habits and put that early season aside have a really strong finish.
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