Match Preview: Lancashire Lightning v Leicestershire Foxes
Lancashire Lightning got off to a winning start in the Vitality Blast against Derbyshire Falcons
Vitality Blast, North Group
Thursday June 7, 2021, 6.30pm
Emirates Old Trafford
The Lightning’s campaign got off to the ideal start yesterday afternoon as they saw off the Falcons by six wickets with three balls to spare. Now they are aiming to reel in the Foxes, for whom this is their first game of the competition.
The clash between the Parkinson spin twins, Matthew and Callum, is always a fascinating subplot, with left-arm spinner Callum coming into this fixture on the back of a Championship 10-wicket match haul against Gloucestershire at the weekend.
Lancashire beat Derbyshire, with the win always seeming comfortable despite only three balls remaining. Liam Livingstone stood out with a wicket and an unbeaten 94 at the top of the order.
Another victory, against the three-times former champions, will really set the campaign up.
Lancashire are unlikely to change much from yesterday.
Jos Buttler continues to be available as he prepares for a busy international summer.
Leicestershire have signed Leeds-born Australian wicketkeeper batsman Josh Inglis and Afghanistan fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq as their overseas players.
Leicestershire were Blast champions in 2004 - the second year of the competition - 2006 and again in 2011. They beat the Lightning in the morning semi-final at Edgbaston on the way to the title 10 years ago.
All of those successes were achieved with current coach Paul Nixon behind the stumps.
The Foxes suffered a heartbreaking quarter-final defeat against last year’s champions Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge when a couple of ground fielding errors proved costly.
Both sides finished on 139-7 from 20 overs, with Notts chasing.
Notts needed 17 off seven balls, but ex-Red Rose Blast winner Arron Lilley and Dieter Klein both misfielded on the boundary - Klein at mid-on with two needed off the final ball, and the hosts won on count back to a higher six-over powerplay score.
After the initial disappointment, the Foxes can reflect on an encouraging campaign last year, which saw them finish third in the North Group with four wins from 10 games.
Callum Parkinson and Gavin Griffiths, like Lilley a former Lancashire Blast winner in 2015, both finished with 10 wickets apiece.
Lilley had an excellent campaign, scoring 268 runs with his swashbuckling approach. That was a Foxes best.
Arguably their key player will be their South African captain Colin Ackermann, who bats in the top order and bowls very useful off-spinners.
Ackermann is the only bowler in world cricket to have taken seven wickets in a T20 innings. He took 7-18 from four overs in a win over Birmingham at Grace Road in August 2019.
He fell a boundary short of 250 runs last year and claimed eight wickets.
Overseas Australian Inglis, who came through Yorkshire’s system before his family emigrated, will face Livingstone, his Perth Scorchers team-mate in the Big Bash and sometimes opening partner.
He is an inventive dasher with the bat and one of many keeping contenders the Aussies have for internationals. He is, however, yet to reach that level.
This is their opening fixture of the competition.
Lancashire only claimed one point from the Foxes in last season’s Blast.
Tom Bailey claimed a career best 5-17 to restrict the Foxes to 150-9 before rain prevented the chase at Grace Road in late August.
Leicestershire then won the return North Group fixture at Emirates Old Trafford to qualify for the quarter-finals on the last day of group action.
And they did it from absolutely nowhere!
Luke Wood claimed a brilliant 1-5 from three overs as the visitors made 154-5, with Lancashire 112-1 early in the 16th over and seemingly cruising as Alex Davies led a solid start.
However, Colin Ackermann claimed three wickets in the 16th over - Steven Croft, Davies and Josh Bohannon.
In all, Lancashire lost four wickets for two runs in seven balls to slip to 114-5 early in the 17th over and never recovered, finishing on 132-5 and falling 23 runs short of their target.
What they said
Liam Livingstone is hoping Lancashire take advantage of home comforts to build an excellent start to their Vitality Blast campaign.
A clash with Leicestershire follows hot on the heels of last night’s victory over Derbyshire here at Emirates Old Trafford.
“We talk about how good our record is here,” said the powerful all-rounder. “It’s a fortress.
“They have a pretty decent team, and it will be a test for us. But it’s nice that we’ve had a game and hopefully we can back it up tomorrow in another home game.
“It will be nice to see some familiar faces, and they have one of my Perth boys (Josh Inglis) in their team.”
Livingstone spoke last night about his increased determination to bat deeper into innings and see the side home, as he did with his unbeaten 94 against the Falcons.
It has been a busy winter away with Perth Scorchers and England, playing limited overs cricket. But it has all been worth while on the evidence of that knock.
“That’s why I go and spend two weeks in quarantine and spend three months away from family, to get these experiences and bring them back here and do what I did here - help us win games of cricket,” he added.
“People think it’s all glitz and glamour travelling the world to these different competitions. But it’s all about gaining experience and learning.”