MATCH PREVIEW: Worcestershire vs Lancashire
Worcestershire v Lancashire
Blackfinch New Road
Monday June 10 - Thursday 13, 11am
Lancashire’s winning start to their Division Two campaign may have been halted by two successive rain-affected draws against Gloucestershire and Leicestershire. But the Red Rose remain top of the table and, thus, in pole position for a top three finish and promotion.
Dane Vilas and co will go in search of the double against a Worcestershire side they beat convincingly at Emirates Old Trafford last month.
Worcester have had a mixed start to a season they started as favourites for promotion, winning two and losing two.
They have just had a week free from action.
This is Lancashire’s first of back-to-back away games, with Derbyshire at the County Ground following from a week on Monday.
Alex Davies was made to wait for his return to first-team action after missing out on the draw against Leicestershire at Liverpool, but he will be considered again by captain Dane Vilas and Head Coach Glen Chapple.
Jimmy Anderson was rested from the Leicester game, while leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson is still waiting for his first Championship appearance of the season.
After winning their first two games against Leicestershire and Durham, Joe Leach’s side have lost their last two against Lancashire and another promotion contender, Middlesex.
They have former Australian Test batsman Callum Ferguson as their overseas player for all formats this season.
Worcester have been handed a boost with the return to fitness of ex-South Africa all-rounder Wayne Parnell, who suffered a hamstring injury late in the six-wicket defeat at Emirates Old Trafford last month. Highly-rated seamer Dillon Pennington is still not fully fit, however, after suffering a pre-season foot injury.
Daryl Mitchell, Riki Wessels and wicketkeeper Ben Cox have all scored Championship centuries this season, while seamer Charlie Morris has an impressive 25 wickets to his name, including five in the match against Lancs.
A six-wicket win over Worcestershire at Emirates Old Trafford towards the end of last month was Lancashire’s third in a row. The last time the county won their first three Championship games in a season was in 1995.
Worcester were really put on the back foot when they were reduced to 38-7 on the first morning. They recovered impressively to take the game deep.
Initially, they posted 172, including Wayne Parnell’s 63 and Jimmy Anderson’s 5-25.
Left-arm quick Parnell then took six wickets as the Red Rose posted 201 all out thanks to Liam Livingstone’s 69 - the highest score of the match.
In Worcester’s second innings, it was Richard Gleeson who followed Anderson with a five-wicket haul as they were bowled all out for 154 early on day three.
That meant Lancashire were chasing 126 for victory, and they were given a scare when Joe Leach struck twice as the score slipped to 32-4. Thankfully, however, an unbeaten 60 for Dane Vilas was the feature of the Red Rose chase, while Rob Jones was unbeaten on 31.
The pair shared an unbroken 95, sealing the points before tea on day three.
WHAT THEY SAID
Graham Onions has hailed the depth of Lancashire’s seam bowling stocks which is proving a huge part of the county’s push for promotion.
Experienced heads Onions and Jimmy Anderson have both been rested in one game apiece out of the last two weeks.
“The games come thick and fast, and we are lucky that we have such a good squad,” said 36-year-old Onions. “Everyone is fighting to get into the first team.
"We have to have a squad like this.
“Richard’s (Gleeson) performances over the last few games have been fantastic, and he is probably not a million miles off getting a bit of time off.
“We have plenty of bowlers waiting in the wings, and everyone is raring to go.
“We have the squad where we can play fresh players all the time, and that’s what it is all about. We’re not like some other counties who have to play tired players. We need to take advantage of that.”
Onions has taken 15 career wickets in first-class cricket at New Road and is closing in on 700 career first-class wickets in all.
He added: "Worcestershire are always really tough to beat, especially at home, so we have to show what we are all about and start again.
"I love New Road, and I’ve always done ok there. It’s a nice ground, but I’m not sure if that’s because when it rains it floods and you don’t get much cricket in!”
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