Match Preview: Lancashire vs Derbyshire
The final match of this season's Bob Willis Trophy comes against Derbyshire in Aigburth
Lancashire can no longer qualify for the Lord’s final later this month, but they can certainly spoil Derbyshire’s party.
They are very much in contention to advance to the five-day showpiece, top of the North Group by five points from Yorkshire.
To advance, Billy Godleman and company would need to finish top of the North and then be one of the two best placed group winners from the North, Central and South.
Lancashire have lost one, won one and drawn two so far and sit third, 20 points behind Yorkshire, who host Leicestershire at Headingley. So second place in the table is not out of the question for the Red Rose.
Derbyshire, meanwhile, have won two and drawn two of their four matches.
Glen Chapple and Dane Vilas are likely to select a side which isn’t too different to what they previously fielded in the Bob Willis Trophy.
There may be the odd tinker - a rest here or there - while the likes of George Balderson will return after not featuring in the Vitality Blast so far.
If selected, Matthew Parkinson would also be making his first, and only, four-day appearance of the summer after missing the first part of the Bob Willis Trophy to injury.
Derbyshire may be surprise leaders of the North Group, a regular Division Two county in the usual Championship competition. But they have played impressive cricket over the last five or six weeks and have enjoyed some notable results with both the red and white balls across the last couple of seasons.
Leaders of the North in the Bob Willis, they also reached their first Vitality Blast Finals Day last September, beaten in the semi-final by eventual champions Essex.
Derby have beaten Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire in this competition before rain-affected draws with Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
They are playing all of the games, in both competitions, away from the Incora County Ground due to England’s women using it as a bio-secure venue for their series against the West Indies. They haven’t even played a game at their regular Chesterfield outground.
Their four-day cause has been advanced this summer by some particular strong performances with the bat.
Five men, Leus do Plooy (262), captain Billy Godleman (216), Matt Critchley (213), Luis Reece (206) and Wayne Madsen (200) have all contributed heavily, while Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Anuj Dal have both chipped in with important scores.
All-rounder Hudson-Prentice’s 91 not out steered their chase of 365 in the opening round against Notts at Trent Bridge last month, in which they recovered from 234/6.
Preston-born Critchley has also added 12 wickets with his leg-spinners.
Lancashire completed the County Championship double over Derbyshire on their march to last season’s Division Two title, starting with a 10-wicket away win at the County Ground in late-June when Graham Onions claimed his 700th first-class wicket in a three-day win.
In mid-September, Lancashire won by an innings and 45 runs at Emirates Old Trafford, also in three days, to clinch promotion. And Josh Bohannon was the star.
Derbyshire, having elected to bat, posted 244 in their first innings, with Billy Godleman making 111. Richard Gleeson did the damage, though, with 5-64.
Bohannon’s maiden first-class century, 174 batting at number three, then underpinned Lancashire’s strong response of 418 before Tom Bailey, Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Parkinson all claimed three wickets to bowl the visitors out for 129 deep into the third day.
The victory confirmed Lancashire’s promotion back to the top-flight.
These two sides also meet in a two-day friendly at Chester Boughton Hall in late July, prior to the start of this season.
WHAT THEY SAID
Tom Bailey is hoping he can continue his upward trajectory and break through into the England set-up.
Bailey, 29, claimed the 200th wicket of his First-Class career in the second round win over Durham at Emirates Riverside.
He has enjoyed a fabulous shortened season in both the Bob Willis Trophy and the Vitality Blast, claiming 21 wickets in seven appearances, including 5/17 in a recent T20 game at Leicester.
Coach Glen Chapple recently likened Bailey to his old partner in crime, Peter Martin, who played eight Test Matches and 20 one-day internationals between 1995 and 1998.
Bailey represented the England Lions in early 2019 on tour in India, and still believes he can make the step up a level.
“Massively (it’s an aim),” he said. “When you are at a big club like Lancs, you have got to have that drive to always do better. And it’s definitely one of mine.
“I’m happy with how I bowl, but I feel I can get more out of myself.
“I don’t put too much pressure on myself. If it does come, fine. If it doesn’t, I know I’m giving 110 percent to this club. We’ll see.”