Match Preview: Durham vs Lancashire Lightning
Durham v Lancashire
Vitality Blast, North Group
Friday August 2, 2019, 6.30pm
Lancashire are flying high after an unbeaten and hugely impressive start to their Vitality Blast campaign, highlighted by victories over Roses rivals Yorkshire and champions Worcestershire.
The Lightning’s sixth game of the group campaign sees them go in search of the double against a Durham side who they beat to claim their opening victory at Emirates Old Trafford a week ago last Sunday.
The North East county have had a mixed start to the competition. Like Lancashire, they have won three of five games so far. But they have lost their other two outings.
Their latest victory came at Emirates Riverside against Leicestershire Foxes last night when they chased 143 inside 15 overs to win by eight wickets thanks to half-centuries from openers D’Arcy Short and Graham Clark. They are third in the group at present
Lancashire won last season’s fixture at the Riverside, with both teams making it through to the quarter-finals. The Red Rose were knocked out at the semi-final stage.
Lancashire’s unbeaten start heightens the chances of another unchanged side.
The Lightning picked the same team for wins over Yorkshire and Worcestershire late last week, and it would be no surprise to see them do so again against a side who are no longer nicknamed the Jets.
Durham now have two Australian overseas batsmen at their disposal, with Peter Handscomb joining the explosive D’Arcy Short in their ranks.
Durham only played with Short for the recent Old Trafford clash, with their captain Cameron Bancroft on Ashes Test duty for the rest of the summer.
Handscomb has since been drafted in to bat in the middle order.
The North East county, now skippered by wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter, have plenty of up and coming talent in their squad in the likes of batting duo Graham Clark, Jack Burnham and bowlers Liam Trevaskis, Matty Potts and Brydon Carse.
Now without the retired Paul Collingwood, their experience comes in the form of their two Aussies, Alex Lees, all-rounder Ben Raine and seamer Nathan Rimmington, an Aussie with a British passport.
Short (70 off 36 balls) and Clark (59 not out off 38) shared 118 in 10.1 overs for the first wicket against Leicester last night. The former had earlier taken two wickets with his left-arm wrist spin.
All-rounders Steven Croft and Glenn Maxwell hit half-centuries as Lancashire brushed Durham aside by 72 runs in a one-sided clash at Emirates Old Trafford last month (July 21).
Powerful with the bat and clinical with the ball and in the field, the Lightning claimed their first win in their second North Group game after a No Result at Leicester two days earlier.
Watched by a non-Roses record crowd of 13,710 for the club’s Community Day, Croft and Australian international Maxwell underpinned an imposing 189-3 having elected to bat.
In response, Durham did not threaten the target and were bowled out for 117 inside 17 overs, including opener Scott Steel’s spirited 58.
This clash was played out on one of the new hybrid pitches - a mixture of grass and astroturf - which do not deteriorate anywhere near as quickly as normal pitches.
Croft, 34, opened the batting for the first time in T20 in 10 years and top-scored with 65 not out off 43 balls, including two of nine sixes in the innings.
He became only the sixth Lancashire batsman to bat through an innings and shared 93 in 8.3 overs for the second wicket with overseas all-rounder Maxwell, who came in with the score at 39-1 in the sixth.
Maxwell, fresh from a disappointing World Cup, crashed four sixes in 58 off 33 balls, including one off compatriot D’Arcy Short’s left-arm wrist spin which thudded into the pavilion’s third tier balcony.
Maxwell later affected two direct hit run outs, while leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson finished with 3-30 from 3.4 overs as Durham’s task of chasing nearly 200 proved too tall, especially given dangerous Short had been bowled cheaply by Hobart Hurricanes team-mate James Faulkner.
WHAT THEY SAID
James Faulkner says he is delighted with Lancashire’s slick start to their North Group campaign, but has urged his team-mates to chase further improvement.
The Australian all-rounder has claimed four cheap wickets in three outings - all victories - proving a real problem for opposition batsmen with his accuracy and variation.
The fact Faulkner is yet to face a ball with the bat is a further sign of the Lightning’s success.
“We’d definitely take this start. The boys are playing a solid brand so far,” said the experienced Tasmanian.
“You obviously want to win every time you go out there, but getting a touch up every now and then gives you a reality check. I’m sure that’s going to happen throughout the 14 fixtures.
“As long as the boys are working hard, that’s all we can do because everyone’s skill is going to be called upon at some stage in tough situations.
“There’s still a lot of improving because you don’t play the perfect game that often.
“Everyone knows that a ball here or there, a misfield or a dropped catch, can change the whole momentum. Any score can be chased down on any wicket.
“It’s those little one percenters we have to be sharp with.
“There’s a good vibe in the changing rooms at the moment, and long may it continue because that’s what we’re all here to play for.”
Faulkner added: “We have a couple of players who are pretty stiff to be missing out. A lot of that is dictated by conditions.
“But we have spots which can be filled by injury, which there will be throughout the tournament.
“Danny Lamb bowled well in the first game and then missed out in the last couple. He’s a good back up. We didn’t have Saqib Mahmood in at the start, but he’s back and doing well.
Buy your Vitality Blast tickets
Don’t forget to buy your tickets to watch Lancashire Lightning in the third home Vitality Blast fixture of the summer against Nottinghamshire Outlaws on Saturday 3 August.