Vilas, Croft impress on first day of 2020 season
The experienced pair put on a century partnership on Day One against Leicestershire at Blackfinch New Road
A fifth wicket partnership of 130 between Dave Vilas and Steven Croft helped Lancashire recover after being reduced to 97-4 shortly after lunch on the opening day of their Bob Willis Trophy match against Leicestershire at Blackfinch New Road.
Captain Vilas led the way for the Red Rose County, hitting 14 fours in going to 90 off 126 deliveries before edging a drive off the bowling of Tom Taylor to slip, where Hassan Azad hung on to the chance. It was redemption of sorts for Azad, who failed to pick up an earlier chance given by Vilas off the same bowler when he scored just 28.
The morning had seen Leicestershire make Lancashire's batsmen work hard for their runs after Vilas had won the toss and chosen to bat.
Both sides fielded debutants. All-rounder George Balderson and bowlers Tom Hartley and Ed Moulton made their first start for Lancashire – the first time Lancashire had given three men a debut in the same match since 2002.
Taylor made an early breakthrough, trapping opener Keaton Jennings leg before wicket with a full delivery that swung back in to the left-hander.
Alex Davies and Bohannon put together a partnership of 39 for the second wicket before Davies, who had hit five boundaries in moving on to 21, mistimed a pull at a sharp delivery from left-arm seamer Dieter Klein. The ball looped towards midwicket where George Rhodes took a fine low catch two-handed to his right.
Klein then bowled Rob Jones with a quick yorker that swung back in to hit the right-hander's off-stump, and then had Josh Bohannon caught down the leg-side by wicket-keeper Harry Swindells, gloving an attempted pull at a short ball after playing impressively in going to 44.
Lancashire looked to be in trouble, but Vilas led the fightback in typically belligerent style. The experienced Croft played the ideal supporting innings, but having reached his own half-century, was surprisingly dismissed shortly before the close when he went back to a delivery from off-spinner Colin Ackermann and was given out leg before wicket.
Before the game started, everyone on the ground participated in a minute's applause to pay tribute to those affected by the Covid pandemic. The players also took a knee to emphasise their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.