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Mark Chilton looks to Royal London Cup for developing young cricketers

Emirates Old Trafford - Home of Lancashire Lightning
Emirates Old Trafford - Home of Lancashire Lightning
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Lancashire’s interim head coach Mark Chilton believes the Royal London Cup could be the ideal vehicle for developing more rounded young cricketers.

Chilton, usually the county’s assistant coach but in charge of the Red Rose while Glen Chapple is away working in the Hundred, admits he is a big fan of 50-over cricket.

Lancashire are fielding one of the stronger teams in the competition, a fact highlighted with back-to-back opening wins against Sussex and Gloucestershire, but they are still fielding players with very little limited-overs experience.

Josh Bohannon, Rob Jones, man-of-the-moment Danny Lamb and stand-in captain Tom Bailey all fall into that category despite having played a decent amount of first-team cricket.

Chilton said: “From a player development point of view, I really like 50-over cricket. It’s a nice bridge between four-day cricket and T20.

“For those players who haven’t played a huge amount of T20 cricket, it’s a good transition into developing those skills because a lot of 50-over cricket is about doing the basics well with bat and ball.

“I know that in international 50-over cricket we have seen the bat dominate, but I think it’s slightly different in county cricket because maybe you’re not getting the quality of tracks that you get in internationals. I still think the bowlers have a key part to play.”

At international level, England have played a dynamic brand of cricket in recent years, securing the World Cup title along the way in 2019.

Chilton added: “In terms of the method around playing 50-over cricket at county level, you perhaps need to be a bit more adaptable in relation to how England approach things with all out attack.

“There’s room for us to be flexible with our approach. Obviously, if conditions suit and with the players we’ve got, there will be times when bat dominates ball.

“But I wouldn’t necessarily expect those younger players - even someone of the quality of Josh Bohannon - to come in and absolutely blitz it.

“Josh is still learning his game and I don’t think it is quite as clear cut as to just say, ‘We’re going to play this positive, attacking brand of cricket that you see at international level’. I think you need to be more mindful as to where your players are at and go from there.”

England are arguably further developed in limited-overs cricket than in the Test arena at present, and the recent ODI series victory against Pakistan adds weight to that theory when a new-look squad was drawn together at the last minute following a Coronavirus outbreak amongst the senior group. They simply dropped straight in and played that aggressive brand of cricket.

“Ultimately, batting in white ball cricket is easier. The ball doesn’t do as much. Often you’re playing on better pitches,” added former Lancashire batsman Chilton.

“The fact we’ve got a number of players who are capable of stepping up to international level is indicative of the strength and quality within county cricket, but it’s also an easier game to be good at.

“We could name 10, 15 even 20 or 25 players who we think could be effective opening the batting in white ball, for example. I’m not sure we could name that many in red ball cricket because it’s a much harder skill.”

Lancashire will bid for a third straight win when they face Kent at Beckenham on Wednesday (11am start).

All-rounder Lamb, meanwhile, has starred in both opening Group A wins. He hit a career-best 86 not out from number eight against Sussex at Sedbergh on Friday when the Red Rose recovered from 115-7 to chase down 271.

On Sunday, he claimed career-best figures of 5 for 30 with his bustling seamers in a low-scoring win over Gloucestershire at Bristol in only his fourth List A appearance.

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