Jack Morley lists Royal London Cup as highlight of his young career
Jack Morley, Lancashire’s young left-arm spinner, says the Royal London Cup campaign has been the highlight of his fledgling career.
Rochdale-born Morley, who calls Heywood CC home, excelled during a competition which saw the Red Rose narrowly miss out on the knockout stages to Gloucestershire on net run-rate.
The 20-year-old claimed nine wickets in his first seven List A appearances with a superb economy rate of only four runs per over and contributed to three victories.
Morley made his first-team debut in last summer’s Bob Willis Trophy, returning a match-clinching four for 62 in a win over Derbyshire at Liverpool.
He said of the last month: “I had a chat with (bowling coach) Graham Onions before the Essex game last week, and he said, ‘How have you enjoyed the last three or four weeks?’
“I said, ‘I reckon it’s been the best period of my life in terms of cricket’. Being able to showcase my skills and knowing the boys are backing me, I’ve loved it. It’s been really good fun.”
While Onions is Lancashire’s seam bowling coach, they have former Leicestershire offie Carl Crowe working with the spinners.
“At the start of the competition, I was in a really good place having done a lot of work with Carl, who is now with the Manchester Originals in the Hundred,” said Morley. “Fortunately that work paid off. Credit to Tom Bailey, Danny Lamb and Liam Hurt, they got the ball rolling in every single game. The opposition were usually one, two or even three down after the power play. For me to come into that situation, it was perfect.
“Because we’d started so well, I could just settle into a rhythm and I felt every ball came out nicely.”
Morley credits the win over Gloucestershire at Bristol (two for 22 from 10 overs) and the defeat at Durham (two for 55 from 10) as personal highlights.
He said: “The game at Durham, I went for 22 or 24 in my first two overs and finished with two for 50 odd on quite a good pitch at a small ground (South Northumberland).
“To be able to come back from those first two overs and get Alex Lees out and limit David Bedingham, I was really pleased with that.”
Lancashire were knocked out in their final group game against Essex when Simon Harmer hit the last four balls for three sixes and a two to secure a tie for the Eagles and progress to the knockout stages.
“I’ve never been a part of a game like that!” said Morley, ruefully.
But there are still good things on the horizon for the Red Rose, who face Somerset at Taunton in the Vitality Blast quarter-finals next Thursday before targeting four-day glory in the LV= Insurance County Championship and the Bob Willis Trophy.
“It’s all in our hands,” continued Morley. “If we continue to give 100 per cent, as we have done all season, I can’t see us going far wrong. We have a lot of strength, and hopefully I can put my hand up and contribute.”
That strength is highlighted in the spin department, with England’s leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson supplemented by Morley and fellow left-armer Tom Hartley. The other two have been away in the Hundred.
But could all three play together in the same side?
“It wouldn’t surprise me,” said Morley. “Our last Championship game is at Liverpool (against Hampshire), and last season there against Derbyshire it was a pitch where some were spinning big and others were skidding on. That’s exactly what you want as a finger spinner.”
Not just delighted with his own success, Morley is just as pleased for those around him including fellow Heywood native Kate Cross included.
“The Thunder have been going well as well, and it would be amazing to see them finish the season with a trophy,” he said, before returning his attention to the men in the Royal London Cup.
“I’ve played a lot of cricket with lads like George Lavelle and George Balderson and a lot with and against lads from Yorkshire and Durham in the Super Fours, Bunbury and in second-team cricket. It’s been great to see them all showing what they can do. In that respect it's been a brilliant competition."