Match Preview: Durham v Lancashire Lightning
A clash between two of county cricket’s form teams at Emirates Riverside
Vitality Blast, North Group
Thursday June 17, 2021, 7pm
Both counties have enjoyed success in four-day and T20 cricket this summer.
Durham’s start to both the County Championship and Vitality Blast competition hasn’t been as impressive as Lancashire’s, but they were not as fancied for silverware as the Red Rose.
Durham are very much in the hunt for qualification for August’s top group in the Championship despite being one of the underdogs in April.
They are mixing it with county champions Essex, plus Warwickshire and Notts, in a nail biting finish to Group One with two games remaining next month.
And they have also won two out of three at the start of the Blast, losing their most recent clash with Nottinghamshire at Emirates Riverside last night.
While Lancashire sit top of Group Three in the Championship, Dane Vilas and co have won three out of four at the start of the Blast.
Lancashire Lightning have named an unchanged 14-man squad to one which has travelled to Worcestershire and Derbyshire the past week.
Dane Vilas (C), Finn Allen, Tom Bailey, Jack Blatherwick, Josh Bohannon, Jos Buttler, Steven Croft, Alex Davies, Tom Hartley, Keaton Jennings, Danny Lamb, Liam Livingstone, Matt Parkinson, Luke Wood
This is scheduled to be the penultimate fixture which Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone will be available for prior to England duty.
They are due to depart after tomorrow’s trip to Birmingham and will face Sri Lanka in the T20 series.
Durham’s England star Ben Stokes is closing in on a return to action following a broken finger suffered at the IPL in April.
Durham will be captained by Australian overseas batsman Cameron Bancroft, and he clearly leads a side who are a tough nut to crack.
In their opening two victories over Yorkshire at home and Leicestershire away, they were 95-6 before posting 181-8 and defending it in the former and 85-7 chasing 169 in the latter.
Wicketkeeper Ned Eckersley and bowlers Brydon Carse and Liam Trevaskis have all contributed significant scores down the order.
Ironically, their defeat against Notts last night is likely to have been viewed as one that got away.
They reduced Notts to 20-2 before the defending champions amassed 195-5. In reply, Durham were 73-0 in the sixth over of the chase before losing wickets all too regularly before finishing on 182-8.
South African batsman David Bedingham is their other overseas player. He opened and crashed 65 off 42 balls against Notts.
Last season’s leading Blast run-scorer for Durham, Alex Lees, has been ruled out of the group stages with a broken hand. Their leading bowler, seamer Matty Potts who claimed 13 wickets, will be a key part of their bid for success again.
Former Lancashire overseas player Marcus North (2005) is their director of cricket.
Lancashire and Durham shared victories in last season’s Blast.
Lancashire won an opening day clash at the Riverside on the back of a Keaton Jennings century in late August. Durham then won at Emirates Old Trafford three weeks later, maintaining their quarter-final hopes.
This was their fourth straight North Group win - by 74 runs - as Lancashire crumbled in pursuit of 158 on a used Old Trafford pitch.
Alex Lees top-scored with an unbeaten 67 in Durham’s 152-5, boosted to 157 with five penalty runs for foul and abusive language from Liam Livingstone after being dismissed in the home chase.
Matty Potts struck three times in a brilliant second over of Lancashire’s innings as the hosts slipped to 9-4 and never recovered, being bowled out for their record low total of 83 in 15 overs.
Potts finished with a career best 3-8 from three overs.
While Lancashire remained second in the North and were already quarter-final bound at this stage of the competition, their chances of a home tie were hit with defeat in their 200th T20 fixture, excluding abandonments.
In the end, it didn’t matter as they beat Sussex at Hove in the quarters before losing in the Edgbaston semi to Notts, while Durham ultimately missed out on a place in the last eight.
What they said:
Alex Davies says he will keep taking risks at the top of the order as the strength around him gives him the freedom to try and get Lancashire off to a flyer.
Davies scored a superb unbeaten 83 off 54 balls in last night’s win over Derbyshire when the Lightning chased 197 with 10 balls remaining.
That came after a trio of low scores for dynamic Davies from Darwen at the beginning of the competition.
Batting at three, he is part of a powerful top order including Liam Livingstone, Finn Allen and Jos Buttler.
That he says, gives him the freedom to keep going hard and taking risks.
“We’ve alluded to this batting line-up so many times, and you know that you can just keep going,” he said. “You know if you want to take that risk to break the back of a chase, you can do with so much batting behind you.
“I think with this line-up, we can chase anything that’s put in front of us. And we’ll keep playing fearless cricket.”
Livingstone and Buttler will depart for England duty after Friday’s trip to Birmingham. But there are more than adequate replacements waiting in the wings.
Keaton Jennings scored an opening day century opening the batting last season and hasn’t played yet. Steven Croft has been batting down the order and is likely to be elevated.
Whether Davies jumps up to open alongside Kiwi Allen, that remains to be seen.
Wherever he bats, the signs are good after his Derby knock snapped a frustrating personal start to the campaign.
“It’s always a nice feeling to get the boys over the line and hit the winning runs,” he said.
“I haven’t contributed as much as I’d like in the first three games, but that’s T20 cricket. I’m going to keep going and keep backing myself.
“With the batting line-up we have, in the first three games I just came in and tried to go hard. It didn’t come off. But it did (against Derby).
“I didn’t actually feel out of form. I was caught on the edge in the first game, which can happen.
“It’s just a case of believing, ‘It’s T20 cricket!’
“There were things I could have done better in the first three games, but that’s how the game goes sometimes.
“Whether it’s myself, Livvy, Finn or Jos, and after us you have Dane and Crofty. Everyone is contributing and putting their hands up.”