Match Preview: Northants vs Lancashire
Northamptonshire v Lancashire
Specsavers County Championship, Division Two
Lancashire are bidding for their fifth win of the season and to complete the double over a Northamptonshire side who beat Sussex last week.
The Red Rose had the better of their most recent clash with Durham at Sedbergh, but their victory bid was thwarted, largely by Cam Bancroft’s unbeaten 92, on Wednesday’s fourth day.
This will be the ninth game of 14 this summer, and Lancashire have so far won four and drawn four. They are three points behind leaders Glamorgan with a game in hand, so remain in pole position to win Division Two and secure an immediate return to the top-flight.
Northants are very much in the hunt for a top three spot. They are fifth in the table with one win, two defeats and five draws, and are 17 points behind Sussex (in third) with a game in hand.
Lancashire will be without Jimmy Anderson after the England Test bowler suffered tightness in his right calf whilst bowling during Tuesday’s third day against Durham at Sedbergh earlier this week.
With just over three weeks until the start of the Ashes, England are taking no chances with their prized asset.
Richard Gleeson is therefore set to play on his first return to Wantage Road since leaving the county late last season. He sat out the Durham game.
Sticking with seamers, Tom Bailey remains on the sidelines having only recently had arthroscopic surgery to his right knee in order to remove a small torn fragment in his meniscus (cartilage).
Liam Livingstone has also been ruled out after sustaining a side injury at Sedbergh.
Northants, who should include former Lancashire duo Luke Procter and Nathan Buck, head into this clash in buoyant mood following a landslide 393-run victory inside three days against Sussex at Hove earlier in the week.
It was their biggest ever win in terms of runs.
Seamer Ben Sanderson claimed career best match figures of 10-55, while another quick Buck hit 51 with the bat in the second innings before taking two wickets. Procter claimed a first-innings wicket.
It was Northants’ first win of a disruptive season from their eighth-match, but they are handily placed in the table.
Only recently, long-serving captain Alex Wakely stepped down from the role, with wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Rossington taking over.
Opening batsman Ricardo Vasconcelos is one to keep an eye on, while his compatriot - the South African Test batsman - Temba Bavuma is playing as their overseas.
Lancashire won the reverse fixture in May by 10 wickets as Richard Gleeson took five wickets in each innings to finish with 10-113 in the match, a career best haul.
Northants opted for a toss, lost it and were invited to bat - meaning everyone got what they wanted - before falling to 230 all out.
Keaton Jennings and Dane Vilas then both posted 97, added to by further fifties for Rob Jones and Tom Bailey, as Lancashire responded with 415.
In their second innings, Northants, trailing by 185, slipped from 54-1 to 87-4 and failed to recover, being bowled out for 200 at the end of day three.
That left Lancashire needing just 16 to win on day four, and they managed it without loss.
WHAT THEY SAID
Lancashire captain Dane Vilas is targeting a productive fortnight of Championship cricket prior to the start of the Vitality Blast as they bid to strengthen their grip on a promotion place.
Vilas said: ”We want to win as many games as possible, but if you can't win you want to be a side that is hard to beat.
“We have a proud record this season, which we want to keep building on while playing good cricket.
"At the moment, it’s going pretty well. Hopefully we can continue that for the next couple of games.
“We have two games before the T20 starts and then two at the back end, so we need to have two good games next and see where that takes us.
"Northants are a good outfit, but we played some really good cricket against them last time out. Hopefully we can take some positives out of that.
“They are playing well, and we are looking forward to the challenge.
"Richard Gleeson was very close to playing against Durham, but we had the luxury of having three quality seamers who were fit and ready to go.
“But I think Glees will now be ready for these next two games - he and Saqib (Mahmood) are going to be key for us."