INTERVIEW: Chilton relishing Lord's Quarter-Final
"We've found some real momentum": Mark Chilton
Lancashire are two wins away from a first Lord’s final since 2006, when current assistant coach Mark Chilton was captain in defeat to Sussex.
“It wasn’t a good day that, was it!” he said of the 15-run Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy loss against Mushtaq Ahmed, Matt Prior and co when the Red Rose failed to chase 173 in a thriller.
“I’m trying to forget that one, but I still have nightmares about running down the pitch to Mushtaq’s googly and getting stumped down the leg-side.”
Chilton says this with a smile and insists he has not thought about erasing the memories with success in this season’s Royal London One-Day Cup.
“I haven’t given that a second thought,” he said.
On Friday, Lancashire will return to Lord’s to face Middlesex in the eliminator match for the right to advance to Sunday’s semi-final against South Group winners Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.
Middlesex are coached by Stuart Law, who played for Lancashire in that Sussex defeat.
Lancashire have qualified for the knockout stages of a List A competition for the first time since 2012, the season after Chilton retired as a player.
This year they have won five of eight games and finished third in the North Group compared to Middlesex’s second-placing in the South Group.
“There’s still a lot of work to do to get to the final. Everyone is very aware of that,” he continued.
“Dane (Vilas) been very good at managing people’s expectations.
“Don’t get me wrong, it would be great to get back to Lord’s. I went as 12th man and then as captain, and they are special days.
“They should be days the players aspire to compete in and it would be great for the club to get there. But there’s an awful lot of work to do yet.
“We didn’t start well with the two defeats, but I didn’t think that was down to poor performance. We could have won against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge (chasing 418).
“We’ve found some real momentum with those five wins on the trot.”
Fast bowler Saqib Mahmood, 22, has been an integral part in creating that momentum with 21 wickets, including hauls of six wickets and five wickets in home wins over Northants and Leicestershire.
His sensational form has come on the back of a frustrating run of injuries, mainly side issues, which have disrupted his development over the last year or so.
Mahmood has regularly been involved with the Lions in the winter months and is highly rated by the England management.
Chilton said: “All players have ambitions, and Saqqy will be no different. But he’s a switched on guy who won’t get too far ahead. He’ll enjoy the moment and reset for the next one.
“I’m loathed to give him advice on that sort of stuff.
“He’s right to have his ambitions, but first and foremost it’s about staying on the park and contributing.
“The best way for any player into international cricket is to be focused on county performances. You can get distracted and think too far ahead about ‘England this, England that’. But if you put in performances for Lancashire or whoever, you’ll get picked. That’s how it works.”
Lancashire have Liam Livingstone available for selection for the first time this season having returned from Indian Premier League duty with Rajasthan Royals.
It would be a surprise if he does not slot straight back into a side which lost its final group game against Warwickshire on Saturday and had to rely on rain washing away Durham’s hopes of leapfrogging them into a qualification place in their final match at Yorkshire.
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