Match Preview: Lancashire Lightning vs Yorkshire Vikings
A second Roses win in four days comes with extra incentive for Lancashire - a confirmed Vitality Blast quarter-final spot
Homeward bound, hey!
As a strange old summer heads to its conclusion, the Red Rose are about to play their first home game of the season at Emirates Old Trafford.
After a trio of games at Liverpool and early Bob Willis four-day home games at Worcester’s New Road and Trent Bridge, Emirates Old Trafford finishes its spell as a bio-secure bubble for international cricket today with England taking on Australia in the Royal London One-Day International decider.
A win tomorrow evening, their fifth, would put the Lightning into the quarter-finals with two games remaining.
Second-placed Lancashire bounced back from defeat at Nottinghamshire Outlaws on Friday with a convincing win over Yorkshire Vikings at Emerald Headingley on Monday.
It was the Red Rose’s fourth win in seven games and means they have not tasted defeat in Vitality Blast cricket against Yorkshire since August 2017.
Both sides are expected to be boosted by the return of England players; Lancashire with Saqib Mahmood and Yorkshire Adil Rashid and Joe Root.
Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow remain unavailable as they get set to depart for the UAE and Indian Premier League duty.
The Lightning are again likely to be without Richard Gleeson and Keaton Jennings through injury.
Yorkshire will almost certainly be a different animal to the one Lancashire beat over at Emerald Headingley a couple of days ago.
They were hurt by the late omissions of four senior players - Matthew Fisher, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Josh Poysden and captain David Willey - in line with Covid-19 guidance.
A family member of one of the players had displayed symptoms over the weekend, meaning a test was required to clear him to play. And given the fact he had been in contact with the other three players away from training, that meant they also need the test results to clear them to play.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, the result from the NHS did not arrive in time, with all players sat in their cars outside Headingley until 5.30pm on Monday awaiting the outcome.
The Vikings are in action tonight against Durham at Emerald Headingley, hoping to halve the four-point gap which currently stands between them and Lancashire.
If they win tonight and tomorrow, they will actually leapfrog the Lightning into second given they already have a superior net run-rate. But Dane Vilas and co would have a game in hand and two to play.
Should England Test captain Root be made available, he would be playing his fourth Blast game of the year. World number one T20 batsman Dawid Malan is definitely available, as he was on Monday when he scored 27 in the six-wicket defeat.
Rashid, however, would be making his first county appearance since April of last year when he played in the Roses Royal London One-Day Cup clash at Headingley, which Lancashire memorably won by one run thanks to 97 from Steven Croft and three wickets for Saqib Mahmood.
A game hurt by the lack of a full house was littered with fielding errors on both sides, but the Red Rose's flashes of brilliant proved the difference as they romped to a six-wicket win.
The Lightning should be credited for their fightback after Yorkshire raced out of the blocks to reach 62/1 after six overs and later 78/1, only to finish on 145/9.
Matthew Parkinson and Luke Wood claimed three wickets apiece before Dane Vilas and Rob Jones steered the chase with an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 71 in 10 overs, recovering from a wobble at 77/4. Vilas hit an unbeaten 44 and Jones a career best 38 not out.
Parkinson’s 3/25 from three overs ensured he claimed the man-of-the-match award ahead of seamer Wood, who claimed his first three Blast wickets in a Lightning shirt.
WHAT THEY SAID
Matthew Parkinson is targeting the perfect finish to Lancashire’s North Group campaign.
Fresh from his three wickets on Monday, he is relishing the return to Emirates Old Trafford, where spin has been key in Lancashire success in recent years.
Currently sitting second on 10 points, two behind leaders Nottinghamshire, the Lightning’s star leg-spinner said: “With three games to go, the boys will be looking for 16 points to finish.”
“I can’t wait to get back there. The pitches spin usually, and we can stick the boundaries out, which will be nice.
“I’ve missed the changing rooms and my locker as well, so it will be nice to be back home.”
Since mid-March, Parkinson has only played six competitive games - all Vitality Blast fixtures due to being in the England bubble at the start of the summer and then suffering an ankle injury.
“It’s been a frustrating six to nine months,” he said. “I didn’t play as much as I’d have liked in the winter, and then to have the injury setback just after lockdown was frustrating.
“I haven’t been at my best in the first four or five games, but to put in a performance (at Headingley) was awesome.”
Having only taken four wickets in five games prior to Monday, he said: “I probably put a bit too much pressure on myself, expecting the results to come straightaway.
“I was probably three or four weeks behind the boys, and still am.
“Monday was as close to me being at my best as I’ve been, although there are still a few things to iron out.”