Match Preview: Glamorgan vs Lancashire
Glen Chapple's men return to Specsavers County Championship in a big clash between the top two at Colwyn Bay
A win against fellow promotion rivals Glamorgan would surely all but secure Lancashire’s immediate return to the top flight of the County Championship.
This is a clash between first and second in the table.
Lancashire sit on 157 points after 10 of 14 games, with five wins and five draws. They are the only unbeaten side in Championship cricket in either division.
Glamorgan are second on 129 points, level with Gloucestershire in third. Northants, meanwhile, have 116 points in fourth place.
Given the top three sides go up, that leaves the Red Rose in an incredibly strong position.
A win would not mathematically secure promotion, but it would be difficult to see how they could be overhauled with a sixth success of the campaign.
This is only a brief return to Championship cricket, a mouthwatering fixture sandwiched in the middle of the Vitality Blast group stages and quarter-finals.
A very healthy Lancashire following is expected at Glamorgan’s North Wales outground, especially as it falls in the middle of the school holidays.
Rob Jones and Graham Onions, Championship regulars this season, are all set to return to the fold after missing out on T20 action.
They played in the second-team Championship game against Leicestershire at Kibworth this week alongside seamer Tom Bailey, whose season has been disrupted by a knee injury.
Bailey has only played five Championship matches this season.
Jimmy Anderson’s calf injury, which has ruled him out of the ongoing second Ashes Test at Lord’s, means he is not ready for a return to action.
Glamorgan’s only defeat of the season so far came in their last match against Middlesex at Cardiff, by 256 runs.
The Welsh side are under ‘new management’ this season, and it seems to be paying off having finished bottom of Division Two last year.
Club legends Mark Wallace and Matthew Maynard are their director of cricket and coach respectively, while wicketkeeper batsman Chris Cooke has been leading their side in one-day and Championship cricket.
Glamorgan’s star man this summer has been Australian overseas batsman Marnus Labuschagne with five centuries in 1,114 runs from 10 matches.
No other batsman in the country is yet to reach the 950-mark.
Unfortunately for them, he has since been called up to Australia’s Ashes squad and has been replaced by compatriot Shaun Marsh, who will play in this fixture.
Opener Nick Selman and Billy Root, Joe’s brother, have both impressively supported Labuschagne as they near 700 Championship runs for the summer.
With the ball, another Aussie - their veteran seamer Michael Hogan - leads the way with 30 wickets, while ex-South Africa international quick Marchant de Lange has 24.
Amazingly, despite their success this season, their bowling attack has only mustered one five-wicket haul so far - going to Hogan.
Dan Douthwaite, a 22-year-old Surrey-born all-rounder, is one to keep an eye on. In his first season of county cricket, Douthwaite was signed following some impressive performances for Cardiff MCC Universities.
Meetings between these two counties, in any competition, have been few and far between in recent years.
Lancashire won at Colwyn Bay in the Championship in 2015, on the way to promotion, before drawing at Emirates Old Trafford later in the season.
The late August clash at Old Trafford that season was rain-affected and prevented the Red Rose from pushing for victory having racked up 462 in the first innings on the back of opener Karl Brown’s 132.
Middle order trio Steven Croft, Alex Davies and James Faulkner all added half-centuries, with wicketkeeper Davies posting 95 as the hosts were bowled out late on day two.
Current Red Rose coach Glen Chapple opened the bowling and claimed two wickets as Glamorgan’s 213 all out meant they followed on early on day four.
Left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan starred with 4-60 from 24.4 overs.
In their second innings, however, the visitors eased any concerns of defeat with a calm effort led by captain Jacques Rudolph (63).
They finished on 159-3, with captain Croft, Faulkner and Kyle Jarvis all claiming a wicket apiece.
Lancashire claimed eleven points to Glamorgan’s seven and secured promotion behind title winners Surrey.
WHAT THEY SAID
Lancashire are not just aiming to go up, they are aiming to do it in style, explains batsman Rob Jones.
“We spoke about it right at the start of the year and asked ourselves, ‘How are going to win this Division Two title?’” he said.
“We don’t want to just get promoted, we want to win it and set a statement and a benchmark for how we go about our cricket. So far we’ve done that.
“We’re obviously a very strong T20 team, we’ve shown that. But winning the Division Two title was top of the list (of pre-season goals) to get back to where we belong.
“We want to be competing for the Division On title in the next few years.
“Glamorgan is a massive game. They’ve been very strong this year and have had some great players, and it will be a great test for us.”
Jones, 23, has been one of the shining lights for Lancashire in Championship cricket this summer, his first full campaign in the four-day team.
He scored an opening week century against Middlesex at Lord’s and has backed it up with four fifties, contributing to a 10-game haul of 523 runs at 43.58.
“It’s just been nice to contribute to a lot of wins and put my hand up when needed,” he said.
“It’s been a great challenge for me.
“It always helps to get a hundred early, which gives you a bit of time to bed in.
“I had a poor few games in the middle, but I pulled it back with a few scores in the three games before the T20s started. I just wish I had one more hundred under my belt.”
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