Match Preview: Lancashire v Warwickshire
This week is a case of one more big push to end the season with a trophy.
Bob Willis Trophy, Final
Tuesday September 28 - Saturday October 2, 2021, 10.30am
Yes, it is not the one we wanted. But a win at the Home of Cricket this week would rubber-stamp the view that this red ball campaign has been a hugely positive one for the Red Rose county.
Thursday’s stunning, nail-biting win over Hampshire at Liverpool will be long remembered as one of the county’s great victories. Unfortunately, Warwickshire were able to beat Somerset at Edgbaston on Friday to secure their first LV= Insurance County Championship title in nine years.
As a result of the changed schedule because of Coronavirus, the ECB have introduced the Bob Willis Trophy final to be contested between the top two teams in the country.
It will be played over five days to guard against the late season weather and heighten the chances of there being a winner.
Should Lancashire win this week, it would be their seventh victory of the first-class season.
Glen Chapple and Dane Vilas could very well opt to stick with the side which secured the one-wicket win over Hampshire.
But, equally, it would be no surprise to see the odd change following those exertions at the end of a long summer.
Lancashire continue to be without Liam Livingstone due to IPL duty and England duo Jimmy Anderson and Jos Buttler ahead of their winter commitments across the various formats.
England have also rested Warwickshire seamer Chris Woakes ahead of a winter of international cricket.
Warwickshire have secured their first Championship title since 2012.
The Bears started the late season Division One campaign top of the table and remained there courtesy of winning their last two matches against Yorkshire at Headingley and Somerset at Edgbaston.
They conceded a 22-run first-innings lead in the latter, on Thursday evening, before batting aggressively to set Somerset a target of 273 in a minimum of 79 overs early on day four.
Chris Woakes and Craig Miles claimed three wickets apiece as their visitors were bowled out for 154 just after tea.
Their captain Will Rhodes and coach Mark Robinson had both previously won titles with Yorkshire and Sussex respectively. The latter, the former England women’s coach, is in his first season in charge having replaced Jim Troughton at the helm in January.
Sam Hain (826) has been their leading Championship run-scorer in 2021, while opener Rob Yates (793) is not far behind and scored a second-innings century against Somerset to speed up the declaration.
Former Gloucestershire seamer Liam Norwell was the Bears leading wicket-taker with 49, including the winning wicket of Jack Brooks on Thursday.
The Bears have employed a trio of overseas players at various stages this season - Pieter Malan, Hanuma Vihari and Chemar Holder.
The latter, a West Indian fast bowler, was signed for the final stages of the Championship season. But, with Woakes becoming available, he only played two matches.
The two sides met in the opening game of Division One, at the end of August, playing out a high-scoring draw at Emirates Old Trafford.
Josh Bohannon scored a brilliant 170 in the first innings, while Matthew Parkinson took seven wickets in the match.
Warwickshire, having elected to bat, slipped to 7-2 before centuries for Chris Benjamin (127) and Sam Hain (118) led them towards a commanding 371. They shared 237 for the third wicket.
Bohannon then anchored the Red Rose response of 341 with his third career hundred - falling only five runs short of a career best - to take the game deep into day three. New ball seamer Liam Norwell claimed 6-57 for the visitors.
An early Saqib Mahmood wicket in Warwickshire’s second innings late on day three gave Lancashire hope of pushing for victory, but fringe England Test opener Dom Sibley made 57, added to forties for Benjamin and Hain to repel a hard-working bowling display on a largely unresponsive pitch.
Leg-spinner Parkinson claimed four final day wickets, only for the Bears to finish on 239-6. Parkinson bowled 86.1 overs in a game which brought both sides 12 points.
What they said
Josh Bohannon has spoken of a “massive” week for himself and his Lancashire team-mates as they head to the Home of Cricket.
The 24-year-old batter finished as the county’s leading Championship run-scorer with 853, 201 runs more than any other Red Rose player.
He is relishing another chance to impress, in front of the Sky Sports cameras, and is desperate to secure some silverware.
“To come second and still be in with a chance of winning the Bob Willis is massive,” said the brilliant Boltonian.
“It’s been a great year. At the start of the season we set targets to win that first group stage, which we did. That was one box ticked. Then we wanted to go on and win Division One.
“The (Warwickshire) result really hurt the lads. But, ultimately, we did everything that we could. We won the game at Liverpool.
“I still think there will be some hurt when we get to Lord’s, but we’ll turn up and try and get past it and hopefully perform.
“We’re on Sky, and it gives everyone a chance to showcase their skills. The ones who have already done it, it’s another chance to build on that. For the younger boys or anyone who feels they haven’t hit their straps, it gives them a great chance.
“It’s a really exciting and is another big game for us. Hopefully we can try and bring a trophy back.”
Bohannon insists there is plenty of improvement to come from this group of players: “We could have done certain things better, and we’re quite aware of that,” he reflected. “But, on the other hand, we’re a very young squad and are developing.”
And, on his own campaign, he added: “The reason I’ve had quite a bit of success this year is what I did in the winter. A lot of that was based on my mental side of things. I’ve struggled with that a bit in the past, and I did a lot of work on that in the winter. I think that’s paid dividends.
“Ultimately, I’m still not quite happy with where I’m at. I think I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want more.
“And there were definitely opportunities where I could have carried on and finished with four or five hundreds. But, having spoken to the coaching staff, I’m still young and am developing.
“I find it quite exciting what I’ve done this year and yet I still have a lot to learn.
“I’m looking forward to this game, the winter and building on it next season.”
The Bob Willis Trophy is proud to support the Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Sport United Against Dementia’ campaign. The third day of the match between Warwickshire and Lancashire at Lord’s will help raise much-needed funds and awareness for the charity. Test UNITE2 70660 to donate £10.