Match Preview: Lancashire v Gloucestershire
A maximum 24-point win against Kent at Canterbury on Sunday made it the perfect start to the season for Lancashire.
Lancashire v Gloucestershire
LV= Insurance County Championship, Division One
Emirates Old Trafford
Thursday April 21 - Sunday April 24, 2022, 11am
Steven Croft (155), Dane Vilas (124), Phil Salt (97) and Matt Parkinson (seven wickets in the match) all stood out amidst a series of contributions.
Now it is back home to Emirates Old Trafford to face a Gloucestershire side who have drawn and lost in the opening two games.
Newly promoted to Division One, albeit that happened at the end of 2019 alongside Lancashire, they have drawn at Northamptonshire and lost at home to Yorkshire.
Seam duo Jimmy Anderson and Saqib Mahmood are set to come back into contention after the ECB requested they sit out the Kent game, while Hassan Ali is in line for a home debut after an encouraging start in the South East, claiming five wickets in the game.
Gloucestershire are under new leadership this year, with former South Africa batter Dale Benkenstein their coach.
Benkenstein was employed by Lancashire last season on a short-term batting coach contract.
Captained by another South African, the experienced batter Graeme van Buuren, they have signed Australian opener Marcus Harris as an overseas player alongside Pakistan duo Zafar Gohar and Naseem Shah.
Teenaged quick Shah missed out on the Yorkshire game with a shoulder injury, while left-arm spinner Gohar has returned to Bristol having impressed at the back end of last year.
Gloucestershire started last season’s Conference season impressively before falling away to miss out on qualification for September’s Division One campaign.
Opposing player to watch:
Wicketkeeper batter James Bracey is enjoying one heck of a run of form.
The Bristol-born left-hander, capped twice in Test Matches by England last summer without making an impression, has scored three hundreds in as many first-class appearances since December.
Touring with the England Lions, he scored one against Australia A in Brisbane, before adding one in the first innings of the draw at Northampton and another in the second innings against Yorkshire.
Aged 24, it is form which will inevitably lead to calls for him to return to the Test team, even if it is just as a batter given the plethora of keeping options available.
Bracey will almost certainly bat at three this week and, alongside Harris, is a key player.
These two sides haven’t met a great deal in the County Championship recently, though Lancashire did win at Bristol in last year’s Royal London Cup.
The last four-day meeting was at Cheltenham in 2019 when, en-route to promotion, the Red Rose were held to a rain-affected draw.
No play was possible on the first day before Saqib Mahmood claimed four wickets as Gloucester posted 205 all out.
In reply, half-centuries from Keaton Jennings and Rob Jones ensured a 39-run first-innings lead with 244. Unfortunately, with little time left in the game, there was no prospect of anything other than a stalemate.
Gloucester finished on 68-2 second time around.
The visitors have only won twice at Emirates Old Trafford since 1965 - a total of 20 matches. One came in 1994 and the other in 2015.
In total, Lancashire have won 70 of 159 Championship meetings at all venues, losing only 22.
What they said:
Jimmy Anderson is backing Lancashire to win the County Championship title this summer.
Anderson is set to return to county colours for this week’s clash with Gloucestershire and is intent on helping the county get off to a flying start.
His team-mates made the ideal start at Kent, and he said: “I think we have a squad that can go all the way.
“It was a disappointing finish to the Championship last year. But I don't see any sort of negative effect from last year.
“I think there is a real hunger to go one further, to start well, and we have strengthened in areas that will help us.”
Anderson, 39, has not played since the penultimate Test Match of the Ashes series in Sydney at the start of January.
Left out of England’s tour to the West Indies clearly hurt him, but he is ready and raring to go in his bid to advance the Red Rose cause and win his England place back.
“I feel good,” he said. “I’ve probably not had enough outdoor bowling as I’d have liked because of the Manchester weather, but I feel like I’m getting there.
“For me, if I think of how I build up to a Test series (New Zealand at the start of June), I want to be in as good form as possible going into that series.
“The best way of doing that is performing for Lancashire, trying to win games of cricket. That’s been my mindset forever really. Performing as well as I possibly can here and hopefully those performances will lead to a call-up.
“If not, then at least we will get off to a good start to the season.
“I’m trying not to think about that (England) too much.
“What I can focus on and control is playing for Lancashire and getting us off to a good start hopefully.
“Having a good two months with Lancashire is going to be exciting for me.”
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