Match Preview: Worcestershire v Lancashire Lightning
Lancashire Lightning tackle a Worcestershire Rapids side who are in desperate need of a win to kick-start their so far lifeless NatWest T20 Blast campaign.
The Lightning visit New Road tomorrow aiming to consign the Rapids to a fourth successive North Group defeat, with the hosts having already lost to Birmingham, Leicestershire and Derbyshire.
Lancashire are handily placed in the race for quarter-final qualification having won two and tied one of their first four matches.
They sit third in the table with five points, one behind leading duo Leicester and Derby.
Lancashire did the double over Worcester last season and have won seven of the eight Twenty20 meetings between the two down the years.
After a run to the quarter-finals of the Royal London one-day Cup earlier in the season, finishing top of the North in the process, hopes would have been high ahead of their Blast campaign.
Unfortunately so far, things haven’t worked out for captain Joe Leach, in his first season in charge, and director of cricket Steve Rhodes.
The early-season loss of Tom Kohler-Cadmore to Yorkshire was a big blow.
But, with eleven games still to play for them, they can turn it around. Things must start happening quickly, however.
They have plenty of power with the bat, with former Derbyshire left-hander Ross Whiteley particularly dangerous.
The Rapids also rely heavily on pace off the bowling when bowling, with medium pacers Jack Shantry and Darly Mitchell key.
Their specialist overseas player for the Blast is New Zealand left-arm spinning all-rounder Mitch Santner, who appeared briefly for them last season before a broken finger ended his campaign almost immediately.
Santner made his international debut in a T20 against England at Emirates Old Trafford in 2015, going on to play all three formats for the BlackCaps.
Australia all-rounder John Hastings is their overseas for all competitions, and he is certainly one to keep an eye on with bat and ball.
LAST TIME OUT
Jos Buttler lit up New Road with a brilliant 57 off 22 balls and took all the headlines as the Lightning chased 199 to win by seven wickets with eleven balls to spare last July.
Buttler reached 50 off 20, Lancashire’s fastest ever half-century, having been promoted to open.
But it was bitter sweet as he was forced to miss the rest of the competition having broken a thumb whilst keeping earlier in the match.
Karl Brown was actually Lancashire’s top-scorer with an excellent unbeaten 62 off 40.
Luis Reece and George Edwards had earlier struck twice in Worcester’s 198.
WHAT THEY SAID
Jos Buttler has reflected fondly on last year’s knock at New Road, a ground he loves visiting.
“Luckily for me, the injury was to my top hand, which I don’t tend to use very much,” he smiled, having batted with the broken left thumb.
“It was also a 40-yard boundary to one side, so I was pretty determined to get out there. With adrenaline, you find a way to get through.
“It was a high-scoring game and a fun innings.
“It’s a ground I like playing at. I think it’s one of the great grounds in English cricket, so I’ll look forward to tomorrow night.
“They’re a very good team. They have a lot of guys who know their games very well. But we’re an impressive team too, and we’ll focus on ourselves.”
Lancashire’s Pakistani overseas seamer Junaid Khan claimed three wickets during his third debut for the county against Derbyshire on Sunday, their latest win in the Blast.
Tomorrow will be the left-armer’s 100th career appearance in this format.
Buttler added: “Junaid’s world-class. He’s a fantastic bowler. He showed that throughout the Champions Trophy
“In Twenty20 cricket, there’s not many better than him. He has great skills, and I’m sure he will get better and better as the tournament goes on.”
Lancashire Lightning NatWest T20 Blast home fixtures
- Lancashire Lightning v Durham Jets, Sun 23 July, Emirates Old Trafford - Buy Tickets
- Lancashire Lightning v Notts Outlaws, Fri 28 July, Emirates Old Trafford - Buy Tickets
- Lancashire Lightning v Worcestershire Rapids, Wed 16 August, Emirates Old Trafford - Buy Tickets
- Lancashire Lightning v Birmingham Bears, Fri 18 August, Emirates Old Trafford - Buy Tickets
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