I struggled with England, but my 241 against Essex made me happy
PLAYING six times for England is an honour I’ll never forget – but I never felt comfortable enough to score runs at a level that was undoubtedly a step too far for my ability.
My international debut came in 1996.
I’d forced myself back into the Lancashire team after some poor form and got called up to play Pakistan in a home ODI at Manchester.
I scored a couple of runs, but my international figures are ordinary at best – I averaged less than ten and never felt like I was going to score in that environment.
I’d visited Lancashire since I was seven – my dad, David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd, was a big part of them so I watched from the changing rooms before starting playing.
Like him I played for Accrington and made my first-team debut at 14 before signing for Lancashire a couple of years later. All the while I spent seven years playing winter cricket in Australia, so it was very full on.
I was playing against grown men but never felt daunted, and that escape from my comfort zone helped when making my Lancashire debut in 1988.
It was against Derbyshire, but playing against Michael Holding was the vivid memory – I only made 20 but was more than happy to get that many!
The following year I was in the one-day team and did quite well, made 1,000 runs and got selected to play for the England A team. That was a real breakthrough for me.
From there I pretty much stayed in the Lancashire side while having some very enjoyable winters in the England set-up.
However, two or three indifferent years followed in the mid-90s. I had poor form and, to be honest, I was young and didn’t train or practise hard enough.
But then reality hit. I needed a good season otherwise I was out of a job, so that was a real eye-opener and I played some of my best cricket in the late 1990s while winning a lot of one-day trophies.
However, with England I had a few failures early on, didn’t hit the ground running in international cricket and missed that bit of luck you need. But I was very proud to have had a go.
My final appearance came in an ODI against South Africa in Dhaka in 1998.
My dad was the coach of England at the time, as he was when I was at Lancashire, but that never influenced me good or bad. I still look back on some excellent memories. A knock of 241 against Essex at Chelmsford was the best I played, everything came off the middle on a day when everything clicked.
I made 24 Championship centuries for Lancashire, three double-tons which was important for me, but I was always battling to stay in the team. Retiring at 33 may seem young, but it was still a 16-year career of which I’m very proud.
It was a relief in some ways to retire, but I’m now an umpire and it’s fantastic to have that career. I took the exam the year I retired in 2002, and since 2009 I’ve been lucky enough to be at the top in England which I enjoy hugely.