It was something of a humbling for reigning Natwest T20 Blast champions Lancashire in their opening fixture last weekend. In the words of head coach Ashley Giles, the Lightning were ‘pumped’ by a Derbyshire side who have never even reached a Finals day.
Having clinched their first T20 title last season, it was a disappointing start to the defence of their crown, and Lancashire will be desperate to bounce back at home to Durham.
Since that defeat though, the side have moved to the top of Division One of the County Championship by continuing their superb start to the Specsavers four-day season with a resounding innings victory over Surrey.
Heading into the Roses clash next week, there are those daring to talk of a potential title tilt from the newly-promoted side.
And they are determined to combine a successful championship campaign with strong performances in the one-day formats.
As one of the most successful T20 sides across the world in the history of the game, in terms of number of wins, Lancashire will want to make it successive titles in the shortest format.
Giles’ side will be boosted by the return from the IPL of England international Jos Buttler and the arrival of new signing Martin Guptill.
The New Zealand opener is available for all Lancashire’s group games and will provide some much needed firepower at the top of the Lightning order.
Durham come into the game on the back of positive championship form, backing up a win over Lancashire with victory against Warwickshire this week.
However they too suffered a big loss in their first match. The Jets were on the receiving end of a destructive century from Worcestershire’s Tom Kohler-Cadmore and slipped to a 38-run defeat.
There were some positive to be taken from that defeat however, most notably the performance at the top of the order from Phil Mustard, who ended last season on loan at Old Trafford. The left-hander struck 64 from just 49 balls to give Durham a slim chance of chasing down the daunting target.
Historically Lancashire have had the better of this fixture, losing just one of the nine T20 encounters with the Jets. Giles’ men will be determined to put last weeks defeat behind them and get back to winning ways in the T20 Blast.
Two men will be making the headlines for Lancashire and both Martin Guptill and Jos Buttler will be crucial to the Lightning’s chances.
Guptill will be charged with getting the side off to a flyer in the powerplay. He boasts an impressive T20 International average of 34.73 at a mighty strike rate of 131.44.
His Mumbai Indians teammate Buttler will also provide much-needed firepower lower down the order. Lancashire are sometimes light on big-hitters and will look to the England star to finish the innings in style. If both fire, Old Trafford can expect to see some thrilling cricket.
Durham skipper Mark Stoneman is integral to getting Durham off to a fast start at the top of the innings. His 25 from 13 balls against Worcestershire was a demonstration of his potential strike rate.
As one of the more experienced campaigners in the Jets line-up, the captain will be hopeful of leading his side to their first finals day since 2008. Having said that, a T20 average of just 19.84 will disappoint Stoneman and it’s a stat he will be looking to improve upon.
There are plenty of unknowns about the Lancashire line-up with the arrival of Buttler and Guptill. The New Zealander will slot in at the top of the order, probably replacing Alviro Petersen.
Buttler will take the gloves from Alex Davies who may also unluckily lose his place to the returning England keeper.
Gavin Griffiths injured his hand last week, meaning Kyle Jarvis is expected to come into the side.
Lancashire squad: Steven Croft (captain), Karl Brown, Nathan Buck, Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper), Jordan Clark, Alex Davies, George Edwards, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jarvis, Arron Lilley, Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood, Stephen Parry, Alviro Petersen, Neil Wagner
Durham have included Graham Clark in their 13-man squad, who smashed 70 from just 26 balls in a second XI match this week.
Paul Collingwood is in the squad and may return after missing the Worcestershire defeat, while Keaton Jennings may also come into the reckoning – looking to build on his superb championship form.
Durham squad: Mark Stoneman (captain), Usman Arshad, Scott Borthwick, Graham Clark, Paul Collingwood, Paul Coughlin, Keaton Jennings, Calum MacLeod, Barry McCarthy, Phil Mustard (wicket-keeper), , Ryan Pringle, Michael Richardson, James Weighell
Weather and Conditions
The game is set to be fine and isn’t expected to be affected by rain. In championship games, the pitch has been hard and with good carry – offering some movement for the seamers.
However, last weeks T20 opener against Derbyshire was a slow pitch as were many in the competition at Old Trafford last season. That is perhaps to aid Lancashire’s trio of spinners but will hamper the likes of Guptill and Tom Smith.
Date: Friday 27th May
Ground: Emirates Old Trafford
Umpires: Michael Burns & Tim Robinson
Odds: Lancashire 8/13, Durham 5/4