Lancashire enjoy convincing Vitality Blast win against Durham
Lancashire enjoyed a convincing 72-run victory in the opening home match of this year’s Vitality Blast against Durham in front of a crowd of 13,710 at Emirates Old Trafford – a record T20 attendance at the ground outside of the games against Yorkshire.
The Lightning posted a huge total of 189-3 on a new hybrid wicket being used for the first time following half centuries by Steven Croft and Glenn Maxwell and Durham never recovered from a faltering start, being eventually 117 all out in the 17th over with Matt Parkinson taking 3-30.
Croft, opening the batting for the first time in ten years as Lancashire re-jigged their batting order with Liam Livingstone missing through injury, anchored the Lightning innings superbly with an unbeaten 65 off 43 balls after Dane Vilas had won the toss. In doing so he became just the fifth Lancashire player to bat through an entire innings in a T20 match.
It was Alex Davies who set the Lightning innings alight with two consecutive sixes off Brydon Carse in the fifth over, the second one sailing over the Red Rose Suite roof at mid-wicket and landing outside the ground on Brian Statham Way, one of the biggest hits seen at the ground since the wickets were realigned.
After Davies departed for 24 off 17 balls, slapping Nathan Rimmington’s first ball to Alex Lees at mid-off at the start of the sixth over, Croft and Maxwell continued to score freely with a rapid partnership of 93 from just 51 balls.
Maxwell hammered four sixes, his first landing on the third tier of the pavilion, in reaching his half century off 30 balls before caught at deep backward square leg by Brydon Carse off D’Arcy Short for 58 in the 14th over.
Vilas hit the ninth six of the innings over mid-wicket off the suffering Carse-who conceded 51 off his 4 overs-with the Lightning skipper adding three fours in making 24 off 14 balls before hooking Rimmington to deep backward square where Matty Potts took a good low catch.
Josh Bohannon finished unbeaten on 17 off 13 balls as Lancashire plundered 110 runs from the last ten overs of the innings to finish on 189-3.
The Lightning struck early in the Durham reply after Jimmy Faulkner bowled Short for 5 with his third delivery in the 4th over, before Ben Raine was run out-also for 5-by a direct hit from Maxwell at mid-on to leave Durham 30-2 with one ball left in the 6th over.
Scott Steel responded with two consecutive sixes off Toby Lester but then lost partner Lees for 12 when the left handed batsman pulled Danny Lamb, playing his first senior game of the season following a neck injury, straight to Bohannon on the mid-wicket boundary to leave the visitors 53-3 in the 10th over and well behind the required rate.
The Lancashire bowlers ensured there was no way back from that point.
Poynter top edged a sweep off Parkinson to be caught by Lester at backward square leg for 5 and Graham Clark drove Lamb to Bohannon at long-on to leave the Durham innings in tatters at 69-5 by the end of the 12th over.
Steel went to his half century from 42 balls hitting two further sixes but found Richard Gleeson at deep mid-wicket off Parkinson having made 58 off 46 balls with the score 93-6 in the 14th over.
Gleeson, with two wickets, and a second run out by Maxwell hastened the end quickly, with Parkinson wrapping things up when Carse hoiked the one hundredth ball of the Durham innings from the leg spinner to Croft at deep mid-wicket to give Lancashire their third-highest margin of runs victory in T20 cricket.
Lancashire now travel to Headingley for the T20 Roses match on Thursday before returning to Emirates Old Trafford this Friday to play defending T20 Champions Worcestershire Rapids (6.30pm start).
Steven Croft hailed a ‘great team performance’ as Lancashire got their T20 campaign off to an emphatic start.
“I thought we were really good in all disciplines, bat, ball and in the field,” he said.
“Getting that first win on the board is really important, and against a strong Durham side too.
“We’re really pleased with that start.”
“Everyone had a part to play and just what you want from the first game.”
Croft revealed the decision for him to open the batting had been under consideration when it became apparent Liam Livingstone would not be fit in time for the start of T20.
“With Livi being injured I got the heads up on it last week,” he said.
“After a strong one-day campaign (in the 50-over competition) where I batted near the top of the order it was felt it was a bit more of a like for like replacement.
“So my role is to have a look and then press on, try and assess the pitch and give advice to those coming in and I thought we adapted brilliantly.
“Maxi took a little bit of pressure off, coming in and clearing the long boundaries. I just tried to get him on strike.
“When it came to our turn with the ball, it all went to plan.”
It was the first time Croft had opened the T20 batting since 2009 against Leicestershire at Liverpool and he added:
“I’m glad to get the opportunity and keep going on.
“But as long as we get the wins I don’t really care who does it.”
Photos: Barry Mitchell