Match Preview: Lancashire vs Kent
Lancashire v Kent
LV= Insurance County Championship, Group Three
Sunday July 4 - Wednesday July 7, 2021, 11am
Emirates Old Trafford
Lancashire could be qualified for the late summer top group come the middle of next week.
The top two sides from each of the three groups advancing to challenge for the County Championship title in late August and through September.
Lancashire are top of Group Three, 16 points clear of Northamptonshire in third place with two rounds remaining.
Northants host second placed Yorkshire at Wantage Road. That means someone, if not both teams will drop points, and a win should seal qualification.
The Red Rose will be bidding for their fifth win of the season in nine games, with one of those wins coming against Kent at Canterbury by an innings at the end of April.
A repeat would do very nicely!
Team news: Lancashire are hopeful Jimmy Anderson will be made available as he prepares for England’s forthcoming Test series against India, starting early next month.
Anderson played in two Championship games prior to England’s early summer Test series against New Zealand, though he didn’t bowl in the rainy draw against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road. Mind you, no Red Rose bowler did given only 34.3 overs were bowled in the game.
Liam Livingstone played in Lancashire’s last Championship game, the three-day defeat against Glamorgan at Cardiff early last month. But he is now away with England’s one-day international squad.
Josh Bohannon has not played any cricket for the last fortnight having suffered a side strain playing second-team cricket, though he is back in training.
Opponents: Kent may be in contention for the quarter-finals in the Vitality Blast having played some excellent T20 cricket over the last month, but they have had a nightmare campaign in the Championship.
They sit second bottom of Group Three with no wins from eight games, losing three of those.
Coach Matt Walker and co are one of only two counties yet to win a Championship game this summer, with Derbyshire who are bottom of Group One being the other.
All three defeats came back-to-back in April and were hammering as well!
They lost to Yorkshire at home by 200 runs, to Lancashire at home by an innings and five and then by 10 wickets to Glamorgan at Cardiff.
In a rain-affected home game against Glamorgan in late May, Kent were in more trouble at 128-8 before Darren Stevens whacked 190 off 149 balls to recover them.
Wicketkeepers Ollie Robinson and Jordan Cox are their leading Championship run-scorers with 534 and 434 respectively. Robinson takes the gloves in Championship cricket, while Cox has taken them in the Blast recently.
But 45-year-old all-rounder Stevens has been their outstanding player in Championship cricket this year. He has scored 423 runs in the middle order and has taken 26 with his seamers.
That is the same number of wickets as Lancashire’s leading Championship wicket-taker Tom Bailey.
England Test batsman Zak Crawley will play his eighth Championship game of the season. He is yet to score a century this summer.
South African overseas batsman Heino Kuhn has only played two Championship games so far this season.
Zimbabwe-born 20-year-old batsman Tawenda Muyeye is one to watch.
This is his first season as a professional having been named as Wisden’s Schools Cricketer of the Year following some standout performances at Eastbourne College in Sussex. He and his family have successfully sought asylum in the UK, and his ambition is to play for England.
Kent drew their last Championship match against Northamptonshire at Canterbury at the start of June. Batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond will be their captain.
Previous meeting: Lancashire claimed their second win in three games against Kent at Canterbury in April, with star leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson taking a superb second-innings career best 7-126.
The Red Rose’s innings and five-run victory, after tea on day four on an attritional pitch, was set up by a first-innings 525.
Remarkably, Lancashire were in early bother at 85-4 having been inserted and later on day one 248-7. But Danny Lamb and Luke Wood shared a new Red Rose record eighth-wicket partnership of 187.
Lamb top-scored with 125, reaching his century with a six, while Wood made 119.
Tom Bailey then claimed four wickets as Kent replied with only 169, only for the hosts - following on - to recover and begin day four on 209-1.
Needing 147 more to avoid an innings defeat, they encountered a never say die bowling performance from Parkinson and his colleagues.
Josh Bohannon made a crucial early breakthrough to bowl Daniel Bell-Drummond for 114 before Parkinson took on the main role.
Having struck on day three, he added six more wickets, alongside two for Lamb, as the hosts were bowled out for 351 in the final session of the game to give Lancashire a 21-point haul.
Parkinson, for his 7-126, bowled 52 overs in the second innings.
What they said: One win should do it for Lancashire, but they will certainly not be easing up if that were to come against Kent this week.
Only four games are played in the second group phase, and you don’t play the team you have qualified through your initial group with.
Lancashire and Yorkshire are currently the top two sides the group, and points from the two group games are carried.
The ruling is half the aggregate points between the two games.
So, Lancashire claimed 22 points to Yorkshire’s one from the victory in May. And the two sides meet at Headingley in the final round next week.
So if Lancashire repeated that 22 to one haul, they would carry 22 points through to the second phase and Yorkshire one.
So even if qualification is clinched against Kent, that Roses fixture remains incredibly important.
“We want to take maximum points off them, and we certainly won’t be easing off if we beat Kent,” said fast bowler Saqib Mahmood.
“Some of the boys have had a red ball net this week.
“We haven’t focused too hard on Kent yet because of the T20 stuff. But we’re back here at Emirates Old Trafford, where we play good cricket.”
Mahmood picked up a side strain trying to wrestle a victory from the jaws of defeat last time out against Glamorgan at Cardiff. He missed the early stages of the Vitality Blast, but he’s since returned to action.
It is a defeat - their only one of the season - that Lancashire won’t be dwelling on.
“The Glamorgan game was a bit of a lottery with the pitch down there. 19 wickets fell on day one,” added Mahmood.
“The difference in that game was Marnus Labuschagne, the number three Test batsman in the world.
“When you lose a game to someone like that, you can accept it that bit more.”