Lilley believes Lancs are peaking at the right time
Eyeing up a Final for Lightning: Lancashire's Arron Lilley loving life in the Vitality Blast
Arron Lilley is loving life as Lancashire’s pinch-hitter in the Vitality Blast, but the off-spinner admits he wants to be much more than that.
Lilley, 27-years-old, has been promoted up the Lightning’s order to number three for much of the last two campaigns to clear the ropes.
And this summer, he has returned a number of notable contributions, highlighted by scores of 42 not out and 47 in Roses wins over Yorkshire - both career bests.
His scores have gone a long way to ensuring the Lightning have qualified for the quarter-finals with one North Group game still to play, against Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston in front of the TV cameras on Wednesday night.
A win would make them favourites for a top two finish and a home quarter-final. Lilley and the majority of his team-mates have extremely fond memories of Edgbaston given they won the 2015 Blast title there.
“I’ve been given that role to go out and try and play a few shots,” he said.
“I hit the ball in different areas, so it’s difficult to bowl at. I’m enjoying it, it’s good, it’s a bit of freedom for me. Hopefully I can get a few more big scores and get us through to Finals Day."
“I’m trying to get better as a player as well. I have to take that step now."
“The team, the captain and the coach are backing me to bat at number three, so the belief is there for me knowing I’m good enough to do it."
“I think I’ve bowled about seven overs."
“Obviously I’d like to bowl more, but if the team keeps on winning that’s fine."
“Myself and Crofty have giggled at each other through games, like ‘Any chance of a bowl?’ But if the team’s winning, we are all for it. We’ll do anything for the two points."
“I still work very hard on my bowling because I consider myself more of a bowler.”
Since making his first-team debut in 2012, Lilley has only played 14 first-class and 12 List A games for Lancashire compared to 67 in T20 cricket.
“I’d love to play all forms of cricket for Lancs, and I’m working as hard as I can bowling and batting wise. Hopefully I get that chance. I played one (Championship) game this year and felt like I did alright.”
Lilley was an ever-present for the Lightning in 2015, taking 16 and 13 catches - his fielding remains excellent - while he only scored 25 runs.
And he believes there are a lot of similarities that can be drawn between that campaign and this. He added: “I think we are a bit younger this time."
“We had a bit of experience last time with Ashwell (Prince)."
“But I think skill-wise and ability-wise, we are right up there. In terms of spin, we’ve got Parky (Matthew Parkinson) now, and obviously Zahir (Khan) is a bit of a magician."
“Parky is coming into his own. “The lads in the batting lineup at five, six and seven, they’ve not really batted that much because the top order has done so well."
“Hopefully we can keep that momentum and go into Finals Day and win it again.”
Birmingham need a win to keep their slim quarter-final hopes alive.