Match Preview: Lancashire v Warwickshire
The challengers take on the champions following a very encouraging start to 2022, which sees the unbeaten Red Rose sit third in the Division One table with two wins and a draw from the opening three games.
Lancashire v Warwickshire
LV= Insurance County Championship, Division One
Emirates Old Trafford
Thursday May 5 - Sunday May 8, 2022, 11am
Dane Vilas and co (58 points) are within nine points of leaders Surrey and three of second-placed Hampshire with a game in hand on them both.
Warwickshire, meanwhile, head into this fixture on the back of an innings defeat - inside three days - against Somerset at Taunton last week, with the home side ending a run of seven successive Championship defeats dating back to last August.
Rain ruined what was set up to be a fascinating final day - and forced a draw - between Lancashire and Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday, with not a ball bowled.
Lancashire, set a target of 351 late on day three, needed a further 342 for victory with all 10 wickets in hand.
Warwickshire won both the LV= Insurance County Championship last season and the season-ending Bob Willis Trophy.
The reigning county champions have made a middling start to 2022, recording a draw, win and loss in their opening three games of their title defence.
Captain Will Rhodes and his side drew at home to Surrey, beat Essex at home by 10 wickets and then, last week, lost by an innings against Somerset at Taunton.
The Bears have a couple of new signings, one which Red Rose fans will know all about in Alex Davies. The other is Australian seam bowling all-rounder Nathan McAndrew.
He went wicketless on debut at Taunton, though hit 47 with the bat in the first innings.
Wicketkeeper batter Michael Burgess has been their standout player so far this summer with two centuries in 378 runs, while veteran seamer Ollie Hannon-Dalby has stood out with the ball, claiming his 15 wickets.
Opposing player to watch:
Michael Burgess was released by Leicestershire before playing for Sussex on a month-to-month contract. But the 27-year-old has seemingly found a home at Edgbaston.
He signed for the county ahead of 2019 and, over the last couple of seasons, has cemented his place in their County Championship line-up, playing a significant part in last season’s success with 651 runs and recording 49 dismissals behind the stumps across his 15 first-class appearances.
It was form which has enabled him to retain the gloves at the start of this season despite the arrival of Alex Davies in the Midlands having left Lancashire.
Aggressive Burgess, batting at seven in Warwickshire’s line-up, scored 178 in the opening round draw against Surrey and then 170 in victory over Essex.
A high-scoring draw at Emirates Old Trafford, in the season-ending Division One phase of the Conference based 2021 County Championship, was followed by the five-day Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.
Josh Bohannon’s 170 and seven wickets in the match for Matt Parkinson were the features of the Championship game, played out at the start of September.
In the Bob Willis Final between the county champions and the second-placed finishers, unfortunately it was the Bears who inflicted a heavy defeat on the Red Rose.
It was always going to be an uphill struggle for Lancashire after being bowled out for just 78 inside 28 overs on the first morning having lost the toss.
Chris Miles started a game which concluded on October 1 with five new ball wickets before the Bears all but killed the game by responding with 518 all out into the early stages of day three. Opener Rob Yates made 113 and captain Will Rhodes 156 from number three.
In their second innings, Lancashire fared better with 241 all out, including George Balderson’s well made 65 at the top of the order. Unfortunately, though it wasn’t enough to prevent an innings and 199-run reverse inside four days.
What they said:
Dane Vilas has spoken of a very positive start to 2022 for his side.
Lancashire’s captain has admitted: “We are really happy with how we started the season. We have achieved everything we wanted to and more. Two good, hard-fought wins and then to go to Hampshire and get an ok result is quite nice.”
Vilas described the back-and-forth nature of the game at Hampshire as a “bit of a ding-dong” - two sides with title aspirations going toe to toe across the first three days.
And he is expecting more of the same when the Bears visit the North West this week.
“We played them twice last year and it was very difficult,” he continued. “They played well and came out as champions.
“We want to put one over them and play well. We know it will be a tough game because they are a good side. Hopefully we can counter that.”
Vilas has also dismissed the suggestion it is a good time to play Warwickshire on the back of a defeat.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “If you are not playing at your best, any team can beat you in this Division One. We know that they’ll reset and refocus and want to put on a good performance against us.”
Vilas confirmed that Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson will be in contention this week after not winning selection at the Ageas Bowl - Mahmood’s absence owing to rest and rotation and Parkinson’s due to pitch conditions.
And he added that a meeting with fellow keeper batter Alex Davies, his former team-mate, will be “strange”.
“Davo was with us for a long time,” he said. “I’m sure he will want to come and do well with a point to prove, which is fine. We are excited for that, and hopefully we can not let him do it.”
Lancashire are unbeaten in 17 Championship matches against Warwickshire at Emirates Old Trafford, dating back to 1984. In that time, they have lost home games at Southport and Liverpool, however.
Dane Vilas needs 58 runs to reach 10,000 first-class career runs, while Steven Croft needs only eight to reach 9,000.