Buck stars but Lancashire are beaten at Edgbaston
Lancashire failed to ride on an impressive bowling performance from county T20 debutant Nathan Buck as they could not chase down a 145 target against Birmingham Bears at a soggy Edgbaston today.
Lancashire restricted the Bears to 144-9 on a pitch lacking in pace before slipping to 39-4 in the seventh over, when rain arrived just after 4.30pm.
Unfortunately, there was no more play possible, and with the visitors behind on Duckworth Lewis it meant they lost for the fourth time in seven NatWest T20 Blast matches this season, by 18 runs.
Lancashire’s hopes of advancing to the quarter-finals of this competition are now in the balance having only won twice in the first half of the competition.
Birmingham scrambled their way to 140 plus, with New Zealand wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi top-scoring 53 from 35 balls.
Ronchi hit four sixes in his innings, with no other Bears batsman bettering Laurie Evans’ 24.
Ronchi’s fellow Kiwi Martin Guptill was then one of two early wickets to fall as the Lightning’s chase of 145 slipped to 12-2.
“I thought we were pretty decent with the ball, although I thought we could have been a little bit better,” said captain Steven Croft. “130 would have been pleasing. There were quite a few extras in there.
“Nathan came in and bowled really well, but the run chase didn’t go to plan. We lost three wickets in five overs.
“We’d have backed ourselves to get that if you’d have given it us at the start of the game, but the result is disappointing.
“We knew the rain was going to come at some point, so we had to go out there and be positive with the bat.
“The pitch was a little bit up and down, and they bowled well to make it quite hard for us.”
Buck finished with 4-26 from four overs, and he struck twice with the new ball and again at the death, including Ronchi caught at short fine-leg trying to pull a short ball.
Despite being with Lancashire since the start of last year, this was Buck’s T20 debut for the county.
He had Sam Hain caught behind at the start of his second over, the third of the innings, before getting Ian Bell caught at point in his next.
He returned at the death to get Mark Adair caught at long-on and then Ronchi.
Stephen Parry was also excellent for 2-27 from four overs. He had Will Porterfield caught at cover by a juggling Guptill and Evans stumped.
George Edwards also finished with two wickets and Arron Lilley one.
Guptill and Jordan Clark then fell inside the first three overs of the Lightning chase. Guptill miscued Oliver Hannon-Dalby to mid-off before Clark was caught and bowled by Rikki Clarke.
Karl Brown pulled Chris Woakes to deep square-leg with the penultimate ball of the batting power play to further boost the Bears.
And when Jos Buttler chipped a return catch to Clarke early in the seventh, he had gone for a two-ball duck and Lancashire were 38-4.
Unfortunately, only two more balls were possible before rain arrived.
Lancashire, in Championship action against Warwickshire at Emirates Old Trafford tomorrow, are next in Blast action against Worcestershire on Friday at the same venue.
“They are all must win now, and we know how big a part momentum can play,” added Croft. “Hopefully we can get on a roll going into those quarter-finals.”