Match Preview: Lancashire Lightning vs Derbyshire Falcons
The Lightning are back in action against the side they defeated in front of Sky Sports cameras in Monday's nailbiter
Lancashire Lightning’s pursuit of T20 glory hit a soggy patch yesterday when the clash with North Group leaders Nottinghamshire Outlaws was abandoned without a ball bowled at Liverpool.
Thankfully, there is an immediate chance to get back to winning ways, with Derbyshire visiting Merseyside tomorrow afternoon, a clash which marks the halfway stage in the group campaign.
The unbeaten Lightning will go in search of their third win in five games and their second success over the Falcons in five days having beaten them at Yorkshire’s Emerald Headingley on Monday night.
The Falcons are yet to win any of their four games, losing two and having the other two abandoned due to rain. They were washed out at Durham last night.
As a result, Dominic Cork’s side have it all to do if they are to repeat last season’s run to Finals Day, when they were beaten semi-finalists.
Tomorrow's match is sponsored by C&C Insurance.
All-rounder Luke Wood could return to Lancashire’s line-up after injury. If selected, this would mark his Blast debut for the Lightning.
This could also be the last Vitality Blast fixture the Lightning will have to do without Liam Livingstone. He is a reserve for England's three-match T20 series against Australia in Southampton, starting tomorrow. The other two matches are played on Sunday and Tuesday, after which he will return to county duty.
Lancashire's next North Group outing is not until next Friday against the Outlaws at Trent Bridge.
Saqib Mahmood, however, is an England reserve for both their T20 and one-day series against the Aussies, so we will have to wait just a bit longer before seeing him in a Lightning shirt.
It is looking almost certain that the Falcons will be without experienced West Indies seamer Ravi Rampaul this season as a result of complications surrounding COVID-19.
As a result of that and the loss of Sean Abbott, the Australian who should have been here as overseas but is not for similar reasons, the Falcons are fielding a very inexperienced bowling attack at present.
Former Lancashire youngster Mattie McKiernan is one of those who has played in the early stages of the competition, as are the likes of on-loan Yorkshire youngster Ed Barnes, Sam Conners and South African Michael Cohen.
Their batting line-up still possesses plenty of dangermen; captain Billy Godleman, Luis Reece and Matt Critchley are just three.
But the potential loss of the excellent Wayne Madsen through injury will be felt keenly. Madsen suffered a lower leg injury whilst batting in Monday’s game at Headingley and would not have played against Durham last night had that game started. He has been named in Derbyshire's squad and they will monitor his fitness.
It has been an encouraging last couple of summers for Derbyshire, who were beaten semi-finalists by Essex in last season’s Blast - their first Finals Day appearance.
They also currently sit top of the Bob Willis Trophy North Group table with one round remaining, against Lancashire at Liverpool, starting on Sunday. A win in that game could see them reach the five-day Lord’s final later this month.
Alex Davies’ excellent 82 at the top of the order helped to steer Lancashire to a tense four–run victory over the Falcons at Headingley on Monday evening.
Man-of-the-match Davies sparkled in front of the TV cameras to underpin a total of 178/5, also including 29 from Keaton Jennings and 38 from Steven Croft.
In reply, Derbyshire fell to 21/2 after four overs - both wickets falling to the impressive Croft.
But they recovered strongly through a series of middle order contributions led by Wayne Madsen’s 44. Unfortunately for him, he suffered an injury whilst trying to play a ramp shot and had to call for a runner.
Matt Critchley, however, maintained their chances with a brisk 32.
With 19 required from the last over, Critchley clubbed Tom Bailey’s first ball for six, with the target later becoming six off the last ball, only for wicketkeeper Harvey Hosein to drag it for one to deep mid-wicket, with the ‘hosts’ finishing on 174-7.
WHAT THEY SAID
Alex Davies says Lancashire’s fielding is helping them recreate the atmosphere that is missing as a result of behind-closed-doors cricket.
A real feature of the Lightning’s bright start to this summer’s Vitality Blast has been their catching, with the rained-off game against Leicestershire at Grace Road on Saturday was a prime example.
The weather allowed for only Leicester’s innings (150/9) to be played out, in which captain Dane Vilas and seamer Tom Bailey both took stunning and memorable catches.
Davies said: “We’ve spoken about not relying on the atmosphere to get us going because we are a team who can rely on the atmosphere to get us going at times.
“We believe that fake noise doesn’t equal good cricket. You can make all the noise you want, but if you’re bowling half volleys and half trackers, it’s going to be no good.
“We try and let our skills do the talking. If someone does well, we’ll back them up vocally.
“We put a lot of work into the fielding, and it’s no surprise to see us taking those catches.
“Dane (Vilas) must be about 50-odd now, but he’s moving the best out of anyone in the squad! The young lads have got to come in, adapt to that intensity and join the skipper.”
And on the standard of fielding in general within the game at the moment, Davies added: “The amount of work we put into fielding, the standard can only go one way. It won’t get worse.
“Touching back even to when I started, there was one of those catches every three or four games. Now, one’s happening every game, and we had three or four stunners in that game (Leicestershire).”
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