Match Preview: Sussex v Lancashire
In-form Lancashire travel to Sussex looking for third straight victory
LV= Insurance County Championship
Thursday 29 April - Sunday May 2, 2021, 11am
The 1st Central County Ground, Hove
Lancashire are riding the crest of a wave.
After a freezing cold opening week draw against Sussex at Emirates Old Trafford was curtailed by snow, the Red Rose have won back-to-back games at home to Northamptonshire and away at Kent last week.
Matt Parkinson claimed a career best seven wickets in the second innings, leading many of the players to take to social media and laud the win’s significance.
Rob Jones, for example, said the win was his “best to date” as Lancashire moved top of Group Three.
Another win in the South this week will cement that position and put the county on course for an all important top two finish in the group.
With Yorkshire sitting second, it has already brought into focus the potential importance of the two Roses clashes at Old Trafford and Scarborough, the first of which is at the end of next month.
But there is a lot of cricket to be played before then.
Can Sussex halt Lancashire’s winning run?
Jimmy Anderson remains sidelined with the calf injury which ruled him out of last week’s win at Kent, a fixture which had been earmarked for his return to county action.
But there is good news on Liam Livingstone. He is back in contention having returned home early from the Indian Premier League.
Sussex, meanwhile, are likely to have Anderson’s England team-mate Jofra Archer available at some point soon as he recovers from elbow and fingers injuries. But this week will come too soon for the devastating fast bowler who will not be going to the IPL.
Since drawing with Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford in the opening round of the season, Sussex have won one and lost one.
They beat Glamorgan at Sophia Gardens in the second round of fixtures and then lost to Yorkshire at Hove last week in a low-scoring fixture which was nip and tuck all the way.
Opener Tom Haines has started the season in fine form, building on his 155 at Old Trafford, with an 87 against Glamorgan and 86 against Yorkshire.
Left-arm quick George Garton and Irish off-spinner Jack Carson both claimed the wicket of England Test captain Joe Root last week and impressed.
The Hove pitch proved two-paced last week and took more spin as the game wore on.
In the second innings, Irish spinner Jack Carson claimed five wickets for Sussex and Dom Bess six wickets for Yorkshire as they defended a 235 target to win by 48 runs.
Matt Parkinson will be licking his lips!
The two sides played out a high-scoring draw during the freezing cold opening week of the season at the start of the month.
Sussex, having elected to bat, slumped to 14-3 and 40-4, only for Tom Haines to underpin their recovery to 301 all out on day two with a third career century.
Then, it was the Dane Vilas show. His special 189, supplemented by fifties for Alex Davies and Rob Jones, secured a lead of 100 at 401 all out.
Unfortunately, weather, including final day snow meaning only 36 overs were bowled, took significant time out of the game, and Sussex finished on 103-2.
Tom Bailey and Saqib Mahmood both took four wickets in the match.
What they said
Luke Wells says he is in a “good place” with his game as he prepares to return to the county who released him last summer.
Top order batter Wells, 30, joined Lancashire almost immediately after a successful spell at Hove came to a challenging conclusion in 2020.
A player with 18 first-class centuries for the South Coast county, dating back to 2011, Wells fell out of favour and did not play at all last summer.
But both he and the Red Rose county are confident in his ability to find top form once more.
After a pre-season hamstring injury - suffered doing hill sprints up Rivington Pike - left-handed Wells debuted for Lancashire in last week’s win at Kent, making an encouraging 45 from number three.
Part of Wells’ bid to re-ignite his career has seen him adopt a more relaxed attitude to the game.
“I got a bit wrapped up with technique in the past and was a bit up and down in my mental headspace. I got a bit low on myself when I wasn’t producing results,” he explained. “It’s just about having that perspective that whatever happens, this is my passion.
“I have been working really hard on my game and feel in a really good place.
“Funnily, when I’ve had injuries in the past, I’ve ended up having some of my best seasons immediately afterwards. I have no doubt that I can get back to my best.”
Wells expects his return ‘home’ to feel “odd” this week should he retain selection. But he insists there is only one target, and it will not be proving a point to his former employers.
“I’ve thought about it a lot,” he said.
“There are other players who have left Sussex over the years and never actually played against them. Chris Nash, for example, when he was at Notts.
“It will be odd, but I’m just approaching it as another game. There’s no point bigging it up in my head.
“The most important thing is it’s a chance to get points in the bag towards the aims and goals we have here at Lancashire - firstly, finishing in the top two in the group.
“I’m just going to focus on that.”
And, of course, Wells will have the inside track on many of his former team-mates, though added: “I do have a fair bit of knowledge about their guys. But, at the end of the day, you have to control your own game as individuals. That is the best way to defeat any opposition.”
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