The State of Play – with Lancashire Director of Cricket Paul Allott

Director of Cricket Paul Allott Pic. Matt Clayton

The game may have changed over the last 10 years to the normal fan but how has it changed to someone that used to play the game?

Lancashire’s Director of Cricket Paul Allott retired in 1992 so T20 is alien to him as a player, but he was at the very first game, Hampshire versus Sussex at the Rose Bowl, on Sky Sports Duty.

Allott knows that the game has changed drastically since he finished playing, but knows it is for the better.

“The fundamental change really is the physical fitness and the approach to the game, both from physical point of view, training, diet and all that sort of stuff, but align to that, the skill level has increased enormously.

“Simple little things like bowling slower balls or variations that bowlers bowl. You’d be able to do it in my day, and you’d be able to bowl different deliveries but they more focus on consistency rather than bowling different types of deliveries; back of the hand balls, slower balls, cutters, all that sort of stuff. These are now prevalent in the game.”

White ball contracts are another thing that would have been alien to Allott’s teammates back in the day.

England’s Alex Hales and Adil Rashid have opted to play in white-ball formats only for their respective counties, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire.

“Again, back in my day that would just not have happened. Red ball cricket was our bread and butter.”

Allott admits he wouldn’t want to bowl with his skill level in the current game saying: “I’d get hit all over the show.

“Batsman of course take up a completely different stance and approach than they used to. They’re capable of hitting you all over the ground, 360 degrees, with all varieties of shots; reverse sweeps, little dabs, scoops over the keeper’s head.

“Never in a month of Sunday’s would you see that in my day, and you wouldn’t really have seen it too much five or 10 years ago so the game’s evolved very quickly.”

It’s not just the cricket that has changed at Lancashire. Old Trafford has undergone a massive redevelopment since the ground lost its test status in 2007.

£60 million has been spent at what is now known as Emirates Old Trafford, thanks to a large sponsorship deal with airline Fly Emirates.

“Emirates Old Trafford is fantastic stadium now, a really top class sports stadium.”

The Point, Pavilion and Hotel standing side by side at Emirates Old Trafford Pic. Matt Clayton

This involved the building of The Point, a multi- purpose conference centre, Players and Media Centre, full renovation of the old Pavilion and the new Hilton Garden Inn Old Trafford, in place of the Old Trafford Lodge.

The biggest impact on the cricketing side though was turning the pitch around from the East-West facing pitch to the more traditional North-South pitch.

This was to stop the low evening sun interfering with play in the late summer nights, but also increasing the amount of pitches available by five to 16.

Allott is interviewed by The All-Rounder’s Matt Clayton. Pic. Niall Concannon

“I don’t really recognise this from when I played, and you bowled the other way around, from the Stretford End and the City End but it looks a really top class place now.

“If it looks like that and feels like that, it’s a great place to play and actually be on the ground so the players will feel like they’re playing in a really world class stadium, which it is.”

 

Below, Allott talks about the plight of the England Test team this winter in Australia and New Zealand.