The national side have fashioned themselves into a force to be recognised with. The introduction of four-day cricket, central contracts and two divisions have all contributed to the current good health of English cricket. England are currently (June 2005)the second best Test team in the world, a rank they have earned by successive Test series victories against West Indies (twice), New Zealand, Zimbabwe and South Africa. They are in the process of crushing Bangladesh, but the mighty opponents Australia await later in the summer.
It is easy to forget that, in 1999, England were ranked the worst team in the world (with the exception of Zimbabwe) and had fluffed their lines when hosting the World Cup. How times have changed. England's progress over the years 2003 to 2005 can be followed on the links to the right.
Fellow fans of Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff can keep track of his vast tally of sixes by clicking the following link [tbc].
Lancashire are held dear to spaceman's heart, having been a red rose member over most of the last few years. Theirs is a strange mix of one-day success and championship nearly-men.
They have won a total of 18 one-day trophies, including prolific spells of five trophies 1969-1972, four trophies 1988-1990 and six trophies 1995-1999, but they have not won the championship outright since 1934. Yes, that's 71 years ago. Up to and 1934, they had been crowned county champions on seven occasions, being joint winners on a further four occasions (the last in 1950, the most recent time they had a hand on the gold).
And, having made a reputation of being a one-day side in the nineties, a collection of players were finally put together to make a challenge in the four-day game. And challenge they did, with Lancashire finishing second in 1998, 1999 (the last time there was just a single division) and 2000. A flirtation with relegation followed in 2001 (the relegation zone a veritable chasm with three of the nine teams swapping places with the successful equivalent in the bottom tier).
Lancashire were runners-up once more, in 2003, in a season which the North West county's matches was blighted by rain. Spaceman recently conversed with a Sussex fan, who put the difference between the two sides down to Lancashire's inability to bowl sides out. Lacking a Mushtaq or indeed a Muralitharan, there is some truth in that, although Keedy finished with 60-plus wickets. But spaceman aims to highlight the effect rain had on Lancashire's season in the 2003 review.
Lancashire, plagued by injuries (the excuses never stop, do they!) and struggling to muster competitive totals, dropped to the lower division in 2004. At least it guarantees a four-day Roses match. A review of the 2003 to 2005 seasons can be viewed on the links to the right.
2003 review [tbc]
2005 review [tbc]
Flintoff's 6-o-meter [tbc]