Match Preview: Lancashire Lightning vs Notts Outlaws
Lancashire Lightning v Nottinghamshire Outlaws at Emirates Old Trafford
Vitality Blast, North Group
Sunday June 20, 2021, 2.30pm
The defending champions are in town, and wouldn’t Lancashire love a bit of revenge for last season’s semi-final defeat at Edgbaston.
More of that later, but safe to say it is a game the Lightning would rather forget.
Lancashire are also aiming to get back to winning ways after Thursday’s defeat against Durham at Emirates Riverside and also to elevate themselves back into the top four in the North Group.
Last night, they were denied the chance to recover when the clash with North Group leaders Birmingham Bears was washed out at 5.30pm, an hour before the scheduled start time at Edgbaston.
There was only game played and three washed out in the North, with Nottinghamshire beating Derbyshire at Trent Bridge to leapfrog Lancs into fourth.
Birmingham are top with nine points from six games, while Yorkshire are second with seven from five and ahead of Durham in third and Notts in fourth - also with seven from five - courtesy of a better net run-rate.
Lancashire are now fifth with seven points from six games in an incredibly competitive group.
Team news: Keaton Jennings is in line for his first Blast appearance of the season following the departures of Liam Livingstone and Jos Buttler to England duty. The likes of Rob Jones, Liam Hurt and Luke Wells are also waiting in the wings after recent performances in the second team.
Either Alex Davies or Dane Vilas will take the gloves from Buttler. Richard Gleeson and Saqib Mahmood are still missing through injury.
Opponents: Notts suffered a major blow on the eve of the competition when two-time Blast winning captain Dan Christian was called up by Australia and forced to miss the whole competition.
The talismanic all-rounder is very much a four-dimensional cricketer for Notts, with his leadership, batting, bowling and fielding. But he has been replaced at the helm by former Lancashire all-rounder and Championship skipper Steven Mullaney.
In Joe Clarke, they have one of the brightest young batsmen in the country in their ranks. The England hopeful opens the batting and smashed a sensational 136 in victory over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road last Sunday.
He forms a dangerous opening partnership with Alex Hales.
With the ball, tall off-spinner Matt Carter is their leading wicket-taker with nine and experienced seamer Luke Fletcher has seven. He is having a great season having taken 38 wickets in the County Championship.
Only Durham’s Chris Rushworth (40) has taken more in red ball cricket.
Former Lancashire Championship title-winning coach Peter Moores remains in charge at Trent Bridge.
Previous meeting: These two counties met at Finals Day on October 4, with rain wiping out Saturday and delaying play until 3.15pm on the Sunday.
Both semi-finals were limited to 11 overs per side, and Lancashire were beaten by five wickets with 16 balls to spare defending a target of 95.
Lancashire, having elected to bat, were in reasonable order at 61-1 in the seventh over, but they lost three for 17 to undermine their acceleration and finished with 94-4.
In reply, Notts reached 50-1 in the fifth over before losing 3-11 to Tom Hartley and Matthew Parkinson.
However, Australian captain Dan Christian smashed four successive sixes off Liam Livingstone in the eighth over to seal the game.
He finished with 30 off only 13 balls.
The Outlaws went on to beat Surrey in the evening final.
What they said: On Thursday evening, Steven Croft played his 200th career game in T20 cricket, with 183 of those coming for Lancashire in the Blast.
He has posted 20 fifties, with a quarter of those coming against today’s opponents Nottinghamshire. In that respect, they are his most prolific opponents.
Aged 36, Croft, who has also played for Auckland and Northern Districts in New Zealand, is still proving an integral part of the Lightning’s search for silverware in all formats, not just in the Blast.
Lancashire’s captain when they lifted their only Blast title to date, Croft has his heart set on continuing to rack up the games.
“I wouldn’t have dreamed of playing 200 T20 games, so it’s a proud achievement to get there,” said the veteran all-rounder, who debuted in this format in 2006.
“There’s been plenty of fun along the way, and I’ll hopefully add quite a few more (appearances) yet.
“Time flies when you’re having fun, and I’d like to play for a few years yet.
“Whether batting, bowling or fielding, it’s a great format to get involved in because you can change a game.
“I want to try and keep my standards high for as long as possible. I want to throw myself around in the field. The day I don’t want to do that is the day I’ll be a detriment to the team.”
Croft was speaking to BBC Radio Lancashire’s Scott Read about his milestone and was asked what advice he would give to a young Steven Croft if he were starting out in the game now.
Would he concentrate on white ball cricket only and chase the riches on offer or would he want to combine white and red ball cricket?
His answer will be extremely popular: “Both,” he said. “I get just as much enjoyment out of all formats. I would also say, ‘Keep enjoying it’.”
Official Lancashire Cricket Foundation Matchday Draw
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