MATCH PREVIEW: Northants Steelbacks vs Lancashire
Northamptonshire v Lancashire, Royal London one-day Cup, North Division
Wednesday May 23, 2018
Northants, like Lancashire, have started this competition with one win from two, and the chances are this will be another high-scoring affair.
Lancashire’s first two innings at Emirates Old Trafford have yielded 300 plus scores, in defeat to champions Nottinghamshire on Thursday and in beating Durham on Sunday.
Northants, meanwhile, bounced back from Thursday’s defeat to Leicestershire by toppling Notts away at Welbeck Colliery on Sunday having posted an imposing 339-9.
Lancashire currently sit top of the North Group by virtue of a superior net run-rate, although Leicestershire in second place and Worcestershire in fourth have only played one. Everybody else has played two.
It would be no surprise at all given the quality of performance in beating Durham by 192 runs if Glen Chapple and Liam Livingstone opted for the same team, barring any last-minute injury issues.
Prior to Sunday’s victory over Notts, by 49 runs, Northants had endured a chastening start to 2018.
They currently sit bottom of the Championship’s Division Two with three defeats and a draw from their four matches, with their batting being a particular problem.
And that thought was only strengthened last Thursday when they opened the RL50 with a defeat to Leicester at Wantage Road, being bowled out for 193 in pursuit of 266.
But, following their excellent recent record in T20 cricket, we all know how dangerous they can be, as Notts found out. In that game, Josh Cobb, Alex Wakely and Adam Rossington hit half-centuries in their near 340 total before left-arm spinner Graeme White claimed three wickets in defence as the hosts were bowled out for 290.
In 2016, White took a career best 6-37 in the RL50 against Lancashire at Wantage Road.
This clash should also mark Luke Procter’s first appearance against his home county, with whom he won the Championship in 2011 and the T20 Blast in 2015.
Procter has linked up with another ex-Red Rose player in seamer Nathan Buck, and he has taken four wickets in two matches without posting a score of note with the bat. In the Championship, the all-rounder has notched 40 runs and has taken four wickets in two appearances so far this summer.
LAST TIME OUT:
Northants won last year’s meeting between the two at Liverpool, their only win in eight matches as they finished second bottom above Warwickshire.
Last May, Lancashire posted an imposing 324-8 from their 50 overs, a notable triumph given they had been languishing on 94-5 inside the first 19 overs having been invited to bat.
After Karl Brown’s early 58, the fightback owed much to 61 from Dane Vilas, but more so 79 from Ryan McLaren and 76 not out off 51 balls from fellow all-rounder Jordan Clark.
They shared 118 in 16 overs for the seventh wicket to advance from 176-6.
Unfortunately, however, despite Jimmy Anderson’s early wicket of Josh Cobb, the Steelbacks rarely looked in danger as Richard Levi and Rob Keogh hit half-centuries to support captain Alex Wakely, who led the way with an excellent 109 not out off 98 balls.
It meant the visitors secured a six-wicket win with 3.2 overs remaining.
WHAT THEY SAID:
Alex Davies usurped Neil Fairbrother to post Lancashire’s highest ever one-day score against county opposition on Sunday, but he knows he can’t rest on his laurels if he is to match the Red Rose legend in plenty of other areas.
Davies scored a sensational career best 147 against Durham, two more than Fairbrother hit against Hampshire in a B&H Cup tie against Hampshire at Old Trafford in 1990.
He is still sat behind Andrew Crook’s unbeaten 162 against Buckinghamshire in the 2005 C&G Trophy at Wormsley, the county’s highest ever score against anyone.
“Harv was a great player for Lancashire,” said Davies. “But this was just one knock, and he scored thousands of runs. If I can keep going the way I am, one day I might get close to him.”
Davies handed over the wicketkeeping gloves to Dane Vilas on Sunday, and is likely to again tomorrow after sustaining a finger injury against Notts on Thursday.
And he is keen to see Sunday’s win not go to waste: “While we’re playing well like this, we’ve just got to extend it for as long as we can, game after game,” he said.
“It is really important we win away from home now. Northants are a really strong team coming off the back of a few good years (in T20).
“We’ll look to do the things we do well, and that’s all we can control.”