Ashley Giles previews crunch Roses Championship fixture
Ashley Giles is hoping Lancashire can take inspiration from their early season home form as they bid to topple Roses rivals Yorkshire this weekend.
The Red Rose side won three of their first five Specsavers County Championship matches, all of them at home, to take an early lead in the Division One title race.
They beat Nottinghamshire, Hampshire and Surrey, but have since slipped off the pace following a run of no wins in their last six.
Giles knows, come the end of September, that Lancashire could still be celebrating a famous title win or dealing with relegation given the tight nature of the top-flight.
He believes one will sort the latter issue out and that three wins from their last five could seal the former.
“I think one will get us clear,” confirmed the Red Rose cricket director and head coach ahead of tomorrow's clash.
“You don’t really want to look at one win from five, but if that’s what it takes to keep us up this year….I don’t want to sound negative, but I’ve always said ‘consolidating our position in Division One while blooding youngsters is important’.
“We’ve done that blooding, now we need to stay up. Three wins could win it. That would be nice!
“Yorkshire have still got a game in hand on us and a few, Durham have as well. But it’s so tight. It can change quickly.
“But we’ve got to start winning again or, at least, getting into a position where we can win.
“We did that against Durham at Southport, which was a tight game.
“Yorkshire is a different challenge again. Whether you play them at home or away, they’ve got a very strong side all the way down.
“Let’s just get back to thinking about how we played our cricket at home earlier in the year. If we do that, we’ll give them run.”
Yorkshire, who haven’t been at their best this year, have also won three from 10 matches this term, but losing only once has contributed to third place in the table with a 14-point deficit to Middlesex with a game in hand.
Their seam bowler Jack Brooks is confident his side can do the business this weekend.
But he is particularly wary of Liam Livingstone, one of those young players Giles spoke about blooding.
Livingstone, 23, is a man Brooks knows well from their time together over the winter playing grade cricket for Perth side Willetton.
“I know how Liam went about his business in the winter, and he’s obviously a very clean striker of the ball,” said Brooks.
“His focus was for white ball cricket because I don’t think he was totally expecting to nail down a first-team spot in the Championship side.
“I think he’s surprised himself as much as anyone in that regard.
“He’s made a spot his own. He’s scored runs and changed games for them.
“He had a good game plan against us at Headingley. He was the one, more than anyone, who showed application against us.
“If you bowl anything loose at him, you’ll get hit for four because that’s the way he plays.
“Everyone was banging on about him being a potential England player straightaway after the 50 he made against us in the T20 at their place.
“He’s one of those guys who has a strong attitude, backs himself and doesn’t shy away from the challenge.
“He’s got a very bright future in the game as long as keeps his head screwed on. I just hope he doesn’t turn up against us this weekend.”