MATCH PREVIEW: Lancashire vs Leicestershire
Lancashire v Leicestershire - Match Preview
Liverpool CC, Aigburth
Monday June 3 - Thursday 6, 11am
Lancashire’s second out-ground fixture in succession, and our first of two home games away from Emirates Old Trafford, takes us to Liverpool, the scene of one of our greatest triumphs.
How could anybody forget 2011?
With Old Trafford’s construction in its infancy and the square being turned, the majority of home games were taken to Merseyside that season. And what a magical Championship campaign it was.
Wins over Somerset, Yorkshire and Hampshire, the latter an imperative one inspired by Simon Kerrigan’s nine-wicket haul in the penultimate game of the summer, kept the title race alive, with the Red Rose ultimately finishing the job at Taunton.
Yes, we have been back since to Liverpool CC. But nothing compares to the summer that Lancashire ended a 77-year wait for Championship glory.
This summer, the Red Rose are leading the way again, albeit this time in Division Two. They sit top of the table with three wins and a draw from four games, the draw being weather-affected against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham last week.
Leicestershire, led by Paul Horton, a Liverpudlian at the heart of Lancashire’s 2011 triumph, have won one, lost two and drawn one of their four matches so far.
Glen Chapple and Dane Vilas may continue to rest and rotate their seam attack, with Graham Onions sitting out last week’s clash with Gloucestershire.
Alex Davies is closing in on a return to first-team action after the broken thumb he suffered against Middlesex at Lord’s in April. Davies returned to action in the Lancashire League with Darwen last weekend.
Leicestershire are a team with strong Lancashire connections.
Paul Horton is skipper, while Gavin Griffiths and Arron Lilley were both members of the Red Rose’s T20 Blast winning side in 2015. Callum Parkinson (Bolton) and Harry Dearden (Bury) both came through the age-group system at Old Trafford.
Former Lancashire captain Tom Smith is their second XI coach, while Cumbrian-born head coach Paul Nixon even watched the county as a kid.
The Foxes lost to Derbyshire at Grace Road last week. Their only win so far came in the opening game of the season against Sussex at Hove.
Pakistan Test seamer Mohammad Abbas is their overseas player, while 24-year-old quick Tom Taylor has started well in both one-day and Championship cricket this summer and is one to watch out for. There are some who believe he will be an England Lions player this winter.
In 2015, Lancashire completed the double over the Foxes. If history repeats itself this year, given that was also a promotion-winning campaign, there will be a lot of happy Lancastrians come September time.
The Red Rose won the first meeting at Grace Road in late May of that season by 244 runs. Steven Croft scored a first-innings century and Tom Bailey took 5-12 in the second innings.
When the two met again at Emirates Old Trafford in mid-June, it was an even more convincing a margin of victory, an innings and 157 runs.
Paul Horton played for Lancashire in both fixtures and scored a half-century in the hosts’ 483 all out in reply to 207. Ashwell Prince hit 104.
In Leicestershire’s second innings - 119 all out - Kyle Jarvis took five wickets and off-spinner Arron Lilley four, with a three-day victory confirmed.
Incidentally, Lilley is actually yet to make a Championship appearance for Leicestershire in 2019.
WHAT THEY SAID
Dane Vilas is in positive mood heading into Lancashire’s fifth Championship match of the season, despite the frustrations of Cheltenham last week.
There were only two days play possible against Gloucester, owing much to rain leaking through the covers and causing damage to the pitch.
But Vilas was happy that his players at least managed to return some positive contributions to keep the ‘boulder rolling’, as was once a phrase in the Lancashire camp.
Gloucester were bowled out for 205 before Lancashire responded with 244. Gloucester were 68-2 when the players shook hands on a draw on Thursday evening.
“Things are looking good for us,” said captain Vilas.
“Gloucester was a team performance, and that’s what we want.
“I thought we bowled incredibly well on the first day to bowl them out for just over 200.
“Saqib (Mahmood), he bowled well for his four wickets. He came on second change, got the breakthrough and got us going a bit.
“There were then a couple of half-centuries for the boys. It’s nice to see Keaton Jennings getting a good hit and into form. That’s a big thing for us because we want to get off to a good start.
“It was nice to see Rob Jones keep up his good form, and I’m also happy that Steven Croft got a nice hit as well.”
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