2019 in review: April
We begin a look back over the six months of the cricket season with a solid start in both formats during April
In any successful season, a strong start is needed to set the tone.
Lancashire began their Specsavers County Championship Division Two title winning campaign with a mouthwatering clash against Middlesex at Lords.
James Anderson and Tom Bailey started in excellent fashion to dismiss the 2016 County Champions for 265 in the first innings. The latter took yet another five-wicket haul against the county who he has enjoyed excellent success against over the years.
A strong response was needed from the batsmen to put the Red Rose in command, with Haseeb Hameed and Rob Jones providing just that.
Hameed reached his century by hooking Toby Roland-Jones into the grandstand, whilst Jones hit 100 the following day, celebrating with typical gusto.
After taking a 162-run lead, Anderson made the gap look even bigger by striking in the first over before Glenn Maxwell, making his Championship debut for the club, acted as chief destroyer with his maiden First-Class five-wicket haul.
His figures of 5/40 left Middlesex all out for 200 and Lancashire chasing 39 for victory, completing the chase to set down a marker for the remaining 13 games.
That victory came in the only First-Class match in April, as their attention turned to the Royal London One-Day Cup.
The competition didn’t begin in the brightest of fashion, with a 125-run defeat to Worcestershire followed by a scintillating 11-run defeat to Notts Outlaws in a run-fest at Trent Bridge, where Dane Vilas scored a List 'A' best 166 in a mammoth chase.
Both sides would eventually finish ahead of Lancashire as the top two in the North Group as the Red Rose bounced back and found their rhythm.
The first victory came in a tight victory against rivals Yorkshire at the Emerald Headingley.
Steven Croft led the way with a strong batting performance, which saw him hit 97 runs off 117 balls, while Saqib Mahmood led the bowlers, as he would for the large majority of the competition.
In a nip and tuck affair, it came down to the final delivery. Needing three to win, the hosts ran one into the leg side but fell short of a second as Dane Vilas and Glenn Maxwell combined to seal a dramatic victory.
That win sparked off a good run of form, with another victory soon following, this time against Northants Steelbacks at Old Trafford. Once again, Mahmood played a starring role.
The 22-year-old became only the fourth Lancashire player to take six wickets in a List A innings, and similar form throughout the season saw him rewarded with a call up for England for the winter tour of New Zealand.
After Northamptonshire set a target of 269, the hosts made a strong start, with openers Keaton Jennings and Haseeb Hameed getting 63 and 65 respectively.
With a score of 164-2 on the board, rain arrive and with no further play possible, the Red Rose were awarded a 45-run victory on Duckworth Lewis Stern.
They continued the excellent form with two wins from the final two games, destroying Leicetershire Foxes before winning a close affair at Durham.
Lancashire won the toss and elected to field first, a decision that proved to be beneficial.
After only 37 overs the Foxes were bowled out for 80 and Mahmood was making records once again, becoming the first Red Rose player to take five wickets in successive List A games.
The chase was a simple one, but they were pushed closer at South Northumberland CC.
Steven Croft played a starring role with the bat, cruelly falling one run short of a century in a chase of 229. It was to be an unlikely batting hero in Graham Onions who sealed victory on his return to the North East.
The 37-year-old twice deposited Ben Raine over the leg side boundary to help the Red Rose side achieve victory with four balls to spare to put them on eight points and finish the month of April on a roll.
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