Match Preview: Lancashire vs Worcestershire
Match Preview: Lancashire vs Worcestershire
Lancashire v Worcestershire, Specsavers County Championship
Southport and Birkdale CC, Trafalgar Road
Wednesday 29 August - Saturday 1 September, 11am
This is a meeting between the two sides who will face off in the semi-finals of the Vitality Blast at Edgbaston next month.
But that will be put very much to the back of their minds as the Division One relegation battle reaches a crescendo.
Unfortunately, this is also a meeting between the bottom two sides in Division One. Lancashire sit bottom with one win from 10 games, while Worcester have two wins from nine and are six points better off on 83.
Yorkshire are third bottom on 88, leaving the Red Rose 11 points from safety.
The two Roses rivals meet at Emerald Headingley next month.
Worcester are aiming to do the double over Lancashire having beaten them at New Road in late June.
Lancashire are set to hand a debut to South Africa left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, who has signed an overseas deal for the final four Championship matches.
Maharaj replaces Australian seamer Joe Mennie, who was available for this game but returns home to Adelaide to prepare for his home summer.
Worcestershire will almost certainly be without stand-in captain Moeen Ali because of England Test duty.
He could feasibly come in midway through the game as a replacement if he is not selected for Thursday’s fourth Test against India at Southampton. But that would seem unlikely.
The Pears overseas player is Maharaj’s compatriot, the left-arm seamer Wayne Parnell, who took two wickets on Championship debut at Yorkshire last week.
Parnell will be replaced by India spinner R Ashwin for the final two games of the season.
If Lancashire are hoping last week’s qualification for Finals Day can have a positive effect on their Championship form, Worcester are in exactly the same boat.
While Lancashire will have made seven Finals Day appearances come September 15, this will be Worcester’s first.
Promoted from Division Two last year, their hopes will be high of making an immediate return, especially given they hammered Yorkshire by an innings at Scarborough last week.
Coach Kevin Sharp’s side rode on a stunning all-round display from Moeen, who hit a double century and took eight wickets in the match.
Experienced opener Daryl Mitchell also hit a superb 178, while fledgling seamer Dillon Pennington was impressive.
Their two wins so far have come against Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Daryl Mitchell scored two centuries in the match against a Lancashire side missing captain Liam Livingstone and leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson to Lions duty back in June.
Mitchell lit up New Road with 118 in the first innings as the hosts made 247 and later 163 as the Red Rose were set a victory target of 602.
Lancashire were bowled out in the first innings for 130 having been 77-0, with seamer Ed Barnard taking 5-34.
Mitchell and New Zealand overseas batsman Martin Guptill, who also hit a hundred, then shared 215 for the first wicket in the second innings to all but kill the game.
Worcester declared on 484-7, with Lancashire losing seamer Joe Mennie to concussion. They were able to replace him with Danny Lamb.
Keaton Jennings then hit a superb 177 in pursuit as Lancashire reached 234-2. Unfortunately, however, Barnard struck four more times as they were bowled out for 399 to hand the Pears their first win.
WHAT THEY SAID:
Mark Chilton, Lancashire’s assistant coach, is hoping the Red Rose can maintain the performance levels and attitude they showed at the Oval last week in pushing Division One leaders Surrey close.
Chilton praised the fight on display as they fell to a six-run defeat chasing 271 having enjoyed the better of the game for large periods.
Earlier in the season, Lancashire also had the best of a home draw with Surrey.
Unfortunately, while those performances have provided positives, Chilton admits: “Where we’ve clearly let ourselves down is in between those two games.
“But when we’ve come up against Surrey twice, we’ve competed strongly.
“We have to take what we can out of the game. We played some very good cricket and stuck together well as a team.
“It’s going to require every ounce of that fight and character in the last four games to get us out of the position we’re in. If we maintain that attitude throughout, we have to believe we can get two or three wins.”