Match Preview: Lancashire Lightning vs Yorkshire Vikings
Victory in the Roses Match at Emirates Old Trafford would seal last-eight qualification for Lancashire Lightning
Vitality Blast, North Group
Saturday July 17, 2021, 5pm
Emirates Old Trafford
A win over Yorkshire this evening in front of the Sky Sports cameras will kill two birds with one stone.
Most importantly, Lancashire would qualify for another quarter-finals appearance, while they would also gain revenge for the Roses defeat at Emerald Headingley earlier this month.
A win would seal the deal, but a tie or defeat would not eliminate them. It would just leave the Lightning relying on other results from Worcestershire and Birmingham tomorrow.
After a stop-start campaign, Lancashire have found some valuable momentum with back-to-back home wins over Northamptonshire and Durham, the latest of those being last night by six runs defending 200.
Lancashire’s home record in this season’s Blast is outstanding. They have won five and tied the other compared to only one win in seven away.
As a result of Derbyshire’s Coronavirus complications cancelling their final two fixtures against Northants and Yorkshire this week, the North Group will be decided on an average points per completed match basis.
Even though a win tonight would give Lancashire more points overall than Yorkshire, the White Rose would still finish with a better average, meaning the Red Rose can’t finish in the top two and would be away in the quarter-finals should they qualify.
Yorkshire have already secured a quarter-final berth and a top two finish in the North Group, winning seven matches from 12 compared to Lancashire’s six from 13.
Joe Root is the only England player from both squads who will be available for this fixture.
Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Parkinson are all in England’s T20 squad for their ongoing series against Pakistan.
Yorkshire will be without Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid and David Willey for the same reason. Their New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson is out with a side injury.
Long time underachievers in T20 cricket, Yorkshire have finally given their supporters something to shout about by qualifying for the quarter-finals for the first time since 2016.
They will now hope to seal a place at only their third Finals Day when they would go in search of their maiden Blast title.
The Vikings qualified for the quarter-finals earlier this week when their final group game against Derbyshire on Sunday was abandoned because of the Falcons Coronavirus issues.
With the North Group now decided on that aforementioned average points per completed match basis, they advanced without picking a bat or bowling a ball.
With Worcestershire losing at Birmingham last night, they are also guaranteed a top two finish.
That would usually give them a home quarter-final, but it can’t be played at Emerald Headingley due to a clash with the England v India Test Match (August 25-29).
The club are currently assessing their options as to where a home quarter could be played if it is secured. In 2019, Lancashire had a similar situation and played their home quarter against Essex at Durham.
Yorkshire have won seven of their 12 games, including against Lancashire at Headingley at the start of the month. But, of their four defeats, two of them have been by 10 wickets, including last Friday against Nottinghamshire in a shortened game at Trent Bridge.
Harry Brook has been their standout player with the bat with 463 runs from 11 games. He was the leading run-scorer in the competition heading into this weekend.
New Zealand overseas fast bowler Lockie Ferguson is their leading wicket-taker with 14, though he misses out through injury. He is playing for the Manchester Originals in the Hundred.
The Vikings have had to endure availability and injury issues throughout the campaign, highlighted by the fact David Willey, Joe Root and Adam Lyth have all captained the side through the group stages.
Root and Lyth are both available for this fixture. It will be interesting to see who captains.
Harry Brook’s career best unbeaten 91 off 50 balls and a Lockie Ferguson hat-trick, at Headingley on July 2, gave Yorkshire a rare Roses Blast victory.
His sixth unbeaten knock of the competition took his average to 115.75 and pushed the Vikings to 180-4.
The Lightning then responded with a battling 171-8, recovering from 70-4 to require 20 from last over. But New Zealand quick Ferguson claimed three wickets with the last three balls to seal a nine-run success.
It consigned Lancashire to a first defeat in Roses cricket since 2017.
Finn Allen, Alex Davies and Dane Vilas all fell as Lancashire slipped to 34-3 inside the first six overs of the chase and later 70-4 in the 11th over.
But Rob Jones and Steven Croft, with 41, superbly shared 85 for the fifth wicket to set up a grandstand finish.
Jones top-scored with a career best unbeaten 61, 24 hours after scoring 49 in a win over Worcestershire.
Twenty off the last over became 10 off three balls, but Ferguson removed Luke Wells, Luke Wood and Tom Hartley to consign Lancashire to a fifth defeat in 11 games and put Yorkshire on the verge of the quarter-finals.
What they said:
A smile breaks across the face of Alex Davies as he’s playfully asked, in preview to this game, ‘Are Yorkshire the team they used to be?’
It is a reference to the comments he made earlier in the season about Yorkshire’s strength, or lack of it at present, compared to six or seven years ago when they won back-to-back County Championship titles.
But this is a different format, and Davies is without doubt wary of the Vikings threat.
“It has been said before,” he laughed. “By me!
“But this is a different format, and Yorkshire are playing well this year. They’re on roll with batters firing. They’re also bowling well, especially at the death.
“I think it’s set for a cracker.
“It’s the fixture we always look for.
“It won’t be the full house (a crowd in the region of 5,000 will be present), but it will be big game and we need to win it.
“We weren’t at our best at their place, but I’ve said before it before how good we are here and teams don’t like playing us. If we put in a good performance, it will stand us in good stead.”
Davies hit an excellent 56 in last night’s win over Durham and has batted at three this season, a change from opening in previous years alongside the likes of Liam Livingstone and Keaton Jennings.
“It’s been different,” he said. “You come in in lots of situations. Against Durham, the boys smacked it up. I found it difficult when I came in to be honest, so I had to give myself a bit of time with Dane (Vilas) and go at the end.
“Yes it’s been different, but with players like Keaton and Finn (Allen) at the top, then I’ll play whatever role is best for the team.”