MATCH PREVIEW: Lancashire vs Somerset
MATCH PREVIEW: Lancashire vs Somerset
Lancashire v Somerset, Specsavers County Championship
Friday 4 - Monday 7 May, 2018
Emirates Old Trafford
Lancashire welcome one of the early season form teams to Emirates Old Trafford tomorrow in Somerset, who have won their first two games against Worcestershire and Yorkshire at Taunton.
This is their first away game of the campaign, with confidence high of a far better showing than last year’s flirt with relegation.
The players and coaches aren’t getting too carried away, but those outside the West Country dressing room are starting to dream of a first ever Division One title for Tom Abell’s side.
The Red Rose, however, will be buoyed by their encouraging display against Surrey, which finished in a home draw on Monday.
Lancashire made all the running in the fixture and forced Surrey to follow-on before being denied victory on the final day.
That ended a two-game losing streak at the start of the season.
The two sides shared victories in last year’s encounters, with Lancashire winning at Old Trafford in April and Somerset at Taunton in September.
Jimmy Anderson returns for Lancashire in preparation for England’s summer Test series against Asian rivals Pakistan and India.
The first of those is a two-Test series against Pakistan later this month.
Anderson will play two Championship matches for the Red Rose, with the second of those coming against current leaders Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge next weekend.
Alex Davies and Shiv Chanderpaul have both been named in the squad following injury concerns last week against Surrey.
Leg-spinner Matt Parkinson comes into contention again having been a last-minute omission last week.
Somerset are riding the crest of a wave.
After escaping relegation by the skin of their teeth last year, they have made changes on and off the field this winter.
Boltonian Jason Kerr is their new coach, while Andy Hurry has returned as director of cricket. Australian opener Matthew Renshaw is their overseas.
Middlesbrough-born Renshaw, who has family living in Manchester, has been at the forefront of their winning start with two centuries inhis first two games.
His belligerent 112 against Yorkshire was a fabulous innings, and he achieved the rare feat of getting off the mark with a six, reaching fifty with a six and doing likewise to get to his century.
They are hoping Jack Leach will recover from the illness that forced him to miss the Yorkshire game. Having said that, his replacement spinner Dom Bess only bowled a handful of overs in the match as seam dominated.
Somerset sit second in the table and five points behind early pacesetters Notts.
LAST TIME OUT:
Lancashire won the early season clash between the two at Emirates Old Trafford, despite being bowled out for 109 in the first innings.
Liam Livingstone, who captained that game as a stand-in for injured Steven Croft, and Davies both scored second-innings centuries before the visitors fell short in a chase of 295.
At Taunton in September, Somerset prevailed on a turning track, with now England left-arm spinner Leach taking nine wickets in a fixture which saw the Red Rose follow-on in reply to 335.
They set Somerset a victory target of just 68, which they achieved and won by seven wickets.
The result ended Lancashire’s slim chances of overhauling Essex at the top of the table with two games still to play.
WHAT THEY SAID:
In-form Tom Bailey has hailed Lancashire’s seam bowling attack, something which will only be strengthened by the return of Jimmy Anderson.
Bailey has taken 16 wickets from three Championship matches so far this summer, including eight against Surrey last time out.
He also hit an excellent 66 down the order with the bat.
Bailey has been backed up by former internationals Joe Mennie and Graham Onions, who have taken 12 and 11 four-day wickets respectively, and Jordan Clark with four.
“It doesn’t feel like we are relying on one person with this bowling attack,” said Bailey.
“We have four steady bowlers that carry the workload well as a unit.
“The competition for places is good for the squad, even more when Jimmy is here, and the club as well.
“We want to win the Championship, and the best way to do that is to have a strong squad.
“The only thing for me as a player is to try and do as well as I can, and I’m sure that’s the same for everyone else playing out there as well.”
Onions, a three-time Championship winner with Durham, echoed Bailey’s comments.
“I think this bowling unit is right up there (with the best I’ve played with),” he said.
“We’ve got every area covered.
“Obviously when we don’t play a spinner, Livvy comes on and does a job. When Jordan Clark hits his straps, he’s got a lot of pace and the ability to take wickets.
“Bails and Joe Mennie have done a fantastic job as well.
“Overall, the unit is in a pretty good position at the moment.”
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