Match Preview: Lancashire vs Worcestershire
Lancashire v Worcestershire
Specsavers County Championship, Division Two
Emirates Old Trafford
Monday May 20 - Thursday 23, 11am
Lancashire are right in amongst the early pacesetters in Division Two having beaten Middlesex and Northamptonshire to make an impressive start to their campaign. Now, Worcestershire, another side in fine form, lie in wait.
A third win on the spin for the Red Rose would really set them up as they chase their first target of a top three finish for promotion.
Glen Chapple and Dane Vilas would have been delighted by the performance to beat Northants in three and a bit days at Emirates Old Trafford last week, a win led by Richard Gleeson’s 10-wicket return on home debut.
Worcestershire, alongside Lancashire and Middlesex, were tipped by many in pre-season to be in the thick of promotion race, and wins over Leicestershire and Durham, the latter last week, have strengthened that theory.
They were relegated alongside Lancashire from Division One last season.
It is hoped Jimmy Anderson will come back into contention after suffering a knee injury during last Sunday’s one-day defeat at Hampshire.
“I know he has been doing a lot of work and rehab with the physio,” said captain Dane Vilas.
“He’s been having a little bowl out there in the middle just to see how his knee holds up, and hopefully he is available. If he is, to have him in your side is gold.”
If Glen Chapple and Vilas opt for a frontline spinner, Matt Parkinson will come into contention.
Worcestershire and Lancashire have enjoyed very similar starts to 2019.
Both sides have won two from two in the Championship and reached the knockout stages of the Royal London one-day Cup earlier this month.
The only difference was that Lancashire went one stage further in the RL50 by reaching the semi-finals. Worcester were knocked out in the eliminator match by finalists Somerset at New Road last weekend.
Captain Joe Leach is fit again following a year out with a back injury, while experienced Australian batsman Callum Ferguson has arrived to assume overseas duties.
Riki Wessels (118 in the first innings) and seamers Charlie Morris and Josh Tongue were their stars in the win over Durham at New Road last week.
Morris claimed six wickets in the first innings and Tongue five in the second.
In the opening round innings win over Leicestershire at Grace Road last month, Daryl Mitchell hit a century alongside New Zealander Hamish Rutherford, who has since departed. Tongue and Morris were in the wickets again, highlighted by Morris’ seven-for in the second innings.
Lancashire and Worcestershire won a game apiece in Division One last year; Worcester at New Road in June and Lancashire at Southport in August.
For large parts of the three-day Southport game, Worcester looked like completing the double.
They elected to bat and made 222 before bowling Lancashire out for 161, led by five wickets for Josh Tongue.
A second-innings 252, built on a series of useful contributions (Wayne Parnell’s 50 was the highlight) set a testing target of 314 late on day three.
And having been reduced to 63-4, Lancashire were right up against it in a battle of two struggling sides. Thankfully, however, up stepped Dane Vilas and Josh Bohannon to secure a thrilling four-wicket win.
Vilas hit a fabulous unbeaten 107 and Bohannon 78 not out on a ground where he had previously played Liverpool Competition cricket.
They advanced the hosts from 178-6 with a partnership of 139.
It signalled both the highest successful run chase at Southport and the record seventh-wicket stand in first-class cricket at Trafalgar Road.
The win was secured at 5.30pm on the third day, with Vilas passing 7,500 first-class runs in the process in Lancashire’s final home game of the season.
WHAT THEY SAID
Red Rose skipper Dane Vilas knows Lancashire will have to be at their best to beat Worcestershire this week.
The wicketkeeper batsman also wants them to make Emirates Old Trafford a tricky place for visiting teams to come.
He said: "Worcestershire are a side who are also playing well and are used to winning four-day games, especially in this division.
“They beat us, and we've beaten them in the past few seasons, so we're 1-1 at the moment. We know it's going to be a tough game.
“They've got some good players in their side so it's going to be a good battle for us. Hopefully, if we keep playing our cricket and keeping our standards we can get one over them.
"We want to play well here at Emirates Old Trafford.
“It is a great place to play, and we want to make it uncomfortable for other teams coming here.
“They should know we play well here, and it is important for us to have that psychological boost. We want to be a team that is hard to beat in any competition, a fighting team and make sure we do the right things.
“It's important to cash in on your home games because you know your conditions.”
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