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Nathan Fearn's Blog - Pre-season optimism and on to L

 I would say there is an almost universal consensus of enthusiasm surrounding Derbyshire cricket at the moment.

It is certainly the case for those involved with the club, be it players, staff or supporters. I said as much to Keith on Friday that, as I begin my fourth season, there is a definite sense of optimism in the air.

I’m not sure what those on the outside make of Derbyshire’s chances - having read few previews or predictions - but I would imagine the club isn’t in the forefront of many minds in relation to challenging for honours.

I think that will suit us down to the ground. Certainly on the whole, there is a large degree or respect from those on the outside in relation to how we conduct ourselves at Derbyshire but less of a belief, arguably, in an ability to challenge.

It’s my own humble opinion but I am more than happy for us to be positioned somewhat under the radar as the season’s opener approaches.

What I like is the progressive nature of our squad. With the model that is in place, essentially you have a team that can grow together and naturally improve season on season irrespective of the people you bring in. It brings sustainability in a way that I believe will prove to be very productive for years to come.

But to the here and now, it would be great to get up and running against Northants on Thursday. In a game of such uncertainties, what is for certain is that, cliché or no cliché, every day and every game will be tough. There are just no home bankers in county cricket and that is what makes it so enthralling.

Another such certainty is that given the hard work over the winter months and subsequent pre-season, Derbyshire are prepared. Here’s to a terrific 2012 campaign.

As for the A-Z of Derbyshire Greats; we’re up to L...

L is a funny one because in preceding blogs that have proven to be problematic, invariably it has been a case of names beginning with that letter being at a premium.

Not so with this blog. In fact, 19 players with names beginning with the letter L have represented the club.

Yet it has proven tricky. There isn’t a player who immediately stands out, however after some deliberation and frantic research, I have gone for Albert Lawton, who represented Derbyshire from 1900 to 1910.

Irrespective of his merits as an inclusion in my A-Z of Derbyshire Greats,  a decade of service to the county - near on thirty percent of which was spent as captain - deserves credit.

From the admittedly little I have read, and consequently limited knowledge I have, he seems like an intriguing character, having been part of a Lawton family with a reputation of some societal distinction.  

The son of a cotton spinning business owner from Cheshire, Lawton appearing on Derbyshire’s books was presumably a result of his father being recruited by Frederic Charles Arkwright to revive Masson Mill. The Arkwright dynasty, of course, needing no introduction.

But to Lawton’s cricketing attributes.  To have represented the MCC for some considerable time and described in archives as a tall and flamboyant batsman with a knack for contributing the odd wicket, he was evidently held in high esteem.

The below, taken from Wisden’s 1955 edition suggests this was very much the case.

 ‘... a prodigious hitter. He hit three of his ten first-class centuries--149 against London County, captained by W. G. Grace; 146 v. Hampshire and 126 (in just over two hours) v. Warwickshire. When his activities in the cotton industry took him to Manchester, he appeared for Lancashire from 1912 till the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. In all he scored 7,254 runs in first-class cricket, average 25.10, took 112 wickets, average 30.85, and held 118 catches.’

With the above in mind, and in a time of relative cricketing conservatism, it would be interesting to see Lawton’s abilities in the current climate, especially in T20 cricket.

Next to M and I will leave you with a few names in chronological order. Malcolm, Miller, Morgan, Morris, Mortensen, Mycroft...see you next week!

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