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Lancashire lose to Worcestershire in Royal London Cup opener

Lancashire lose to Worcestershire in Royal London Cup opener

Centuries by Hamish Rutherford and Daryl Mitchell along with a rapid 72 by Riki Wessels propelled Worcestershire to a convincing 125 run victory against Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford despite a second five-wicket haul in one-day cricket by Matt Parkinson. Lancashire never really got to grip with the run chase and finished well short by the end on 242 all out.

Worcestershire, North Division Group winners for the past two seasons, made a rapid start to their innings thanks to a hard-hitting 72 off 45 balls by new signing Wessels, who hit 9 fours and 3 sixes and targeted the short boundary on the Stretford side with great success.  The first 50 runs arrived from 44 balls and New Zealander Rutherford then pulling his first six over mid-wicket off Steven Croft while Wessels’ third maximum brought up the 100 in the 12th over.

Lancashire fought back with two quick wickets, Wessels holing out off Parkinson to James Anderson running in from the long off boundary, and Tom Fell following quickly after flicking Glenn Maxwell, awarded his County Cap at the start of the day, to Josh Bohannon at mid-wicket for 2 to leave the visitors on 110-2 at the end of the 14th over.

Overseas batsman Rutherford, who moved to his half century off 53 balls, and Mitchell consolidated the Rapids good start with some outstanding batting in a 182-run partnership for the third wicket that threatened to take the visitors towards a total in excess of four hundred at one point. Having steered the Rapids steadily to 222-2 by the 30-over mark, the pair moved into another gear plundering  70 runs from 38 balls until Rutherford drove Parkinson to Dane Vilas at extra cover to depart for 108 having struck 10 fours and three sixes

Parkinson then removed Mitchell two overs later, stumped by Red Rose one-day debutant Brooke Guest for 101 (11 fours, 1 six) from the last ball of the 39th over with the score 300-4, to check the visitors progress and the Lancashire attack enjoyed further success during the final ten overs.

Brett D’Oliveira steered Saqib Mahmood into the hands of Parkinson at third man for two, Ross Whiteley holed out to Keaton Jennings at long-on off Maxwell for 36 before four wickets fell for two runs during the final two overs to end the innings on 367, Parkinson finishing with a career-best 5-51 when Ben Cox holed out to Anderson at long-on.

Jennings and Guest combined to add 75 runs for the second wicket following the early loss of Haseeb Hameed for 5 when Lancashire commenced their reply. But both departed in quick succession to Wayne Parnell, Jennings for a nicely constructed 54 before he pulled off the front foot but straight to Rutherford at square leg, and Guest was cleaned up by a full length delivery for 36 to leave Lancashire 97-3 in the 20th over.

Maxwell thumped three sixes and 2 fours in an attacking 21-ball innings of 35 before being caught at mid-on by Rutherford off D’Oliveira  and Vilas hit one six in his 29 off 27 balls before chipping Mitchell to D’Oliveira at mid-wicket to leave Lancashire struggling on 185-5 after 32 overs.

The innings never recovered with Croft, unbeaten on 32, the only other batsman to reach double figures as Lancashire were all out for 242 in the 41st over.

After a difficult winter, beset by a stress injury that forced him to miss the Big Bash in Australia, and having been hit on the jaw by a fiercely struck ball in Dubai on Lancashire’s pre-season tour, Matt Parkinson was delighted to have made such a strong comeback today, even if his pleasure was tempered by Lancashire’s defeat.

“It was good (to have performed well) after having the tough five months I’ve had,” he said. “After the stress fracture followed by eating a cricket ball in Dubai, to come back from that and perform as I have done today is very pleasing.”

“To have a winter planned out, be excited about it, and then for it not to happen was very disappointing. But it’s made me a lot hungrier to perform this summer and reap the rewards I was meant to get during the winter,” he added.

“I was pleased (with how I bowled today)” he said. “And pleased that my role was to try and take wickets and come on and break partnerships, and I think I’ve done that today.

“The ball came out nicely and the results were good.”

“I love a challenge and it’s a nice wicket to bowl spin on at Old Trafford. Rutherford and Wessels are two good players and it was a very good surface. So to come on and do the job that I did was very pleasing.”

And Parkinson says the team will have to respond quickly to stay in contention in the group.

“The lads are gutted about today,” he added.  “Worcestershire probably got 25-30 runs over par and we didn’t play as well as we should have done.  Going to Trent Bridge will be completed different, and the lads are raring to go. The whole competition is quick and sharp and this is a big weekend (coming up). If we don’t get results it will put us in a difficult position.

“The whole division is strong, it’s tough to go away (and get results), so we are going to have to fight hard and play well. “

Our next Royal London One-Day Cup game is against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge on Friday.

Ken Grime

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