Preview: Lancashire v Essex
Match Preview: Lancashire v Essex Specsavers County Championship
Read our full match preview ahead of the Lancashire v Essex Specsavers County Championship clash at Emirates Old Trafford, which will begin on Saturday 9 July.
Lancashire v Essex
Saturday 9 – Tuesday 12 June
Specsavers County Championship
Emirates Old Trafford
Lancashire v Essex, Specsavers County Championship Division One Saturday June 9, 2018 Emirates Old Trafford
Lancashire return to County Championship action for the first of three season shaping matches, with the defending champions visiting sunny Manchester.
Prior to the break for the recent Royal London one-day Cup, the Red Rose beat leaders Nottinghamshire by an innings inside three days at Trent Bridge, securing their first win in five matches.
Lancashire started the season with two defeats, including one to Essex at Chelmsford, before drawing their next two against Surrey and Somerset at Old Trafford.
They are starting to find form, but sit only three points above the bottom two. Equally, they are 19 points behind leaders Notts. So, they could still get involved in the title race or be sucked in at the bottom.
With that in mind, games against Essex, Worcestershire away and Hampshire at home before the end of the month are vital.
England Test opener Keaton Jennings has been made available, as has his new ball partner Alastair Cook for the visitors. Leg-spinner Matt Parkinson did not play in the aforementioned Trent Bridge clash, but he will come into consideration.
Former Lancashire overseas fast bowler Neil Wagner, a Championship winner with Essex last year, will make his first four-day appearance of the summer having replaced Peter Siddle, another ex-Red Rose overseas.
Essex, much like Lancashire, have had a mixed start to the season.
While Lancashire are seventh with 51 points from two defeats, two draws and a win, Essex are fifth with 56.
They have won two, drawn two and lost one.
That defeat came against Yorkshire at Chelmsford in May, despite having bowled their visitors out for 50 in the first innings. It was their first Championship defeat since September 2016.
They beat Worcestershire at New Road inside three days last time out and will again field South African off-spinner Simon Harmer, a former professional at Monton and Weaste in the not too distant past.
Essex bounced back from being bowled out for 150 in their first innings to win by 31 runs inside three days at Chelmsford in April, consigning Lancashire to a second successive defeat at the start of the season.
Set 320 to win, the Red Rose ran the champions close, but they were bowled out for 288 and lost wickets at crucial intervals.
Alex Davies top-scored with 71 second time around, while middle to lower order fifties for Jordan Clark and Joe Mennie heightened the tension. Unfortunately, Lancashire left themselves with too much to do having earlier slipped to 195-7.
Essex new ball seamer Jamie Porter took nine wickets in the match.
He took five in the first innings as Lancashire were bowled out for 144 and failed to build on a good all-round display with the ball to start the match in excellent fashion.
James Foster’s 69 was one of a series of contributions in Essex’s second-innings 313 as they set a stiff and, ultimately, winning target.
WHAT THEY SAID:
Matt Parkinson, fresh from a superb RL50 campaign with 18 wickets from seven outings, will be hoping to transfer that kind of form into the County Championship and add to his nine scalps from two appearances so far.
Looking ahead to Essex, the leg-spinner said: “After the first two games of the season against Notts and Essex, the last three games - the two draws and the win - I think we’ve played some good cricket.
“We had the better of the two draws, and the lads put in a great shift at Trent Bridge.
“We need to take the momentum from that last win into this block of games before the T20s start.
“We know Essex well. They are a similar group to last year. Neil Wagner’s back for them and played for us in my first season. But it’s about us putting in a performance.”
With the recent dry weather, that should play into Parkinson’s hands.
“To be honest, I wish we’d have been playing red ball cricket recently because the white ball wickets haven’t really spun,” he added. “But you’d be thinking with this weather, the red ball ones would.
“Fingers crossed the weather continues. If it does, it would be amazing because the start of the season was freezing!”