As the Royal London One-Day Cup gets up and running, Lancashire are set for their third game in as many days as the county cricket calendar reaches its most hectic period.
Victory over Yorkshire got the Lightning up and running in their T20 Blast defence after two straight defeats. But a loss against Nottinghamshire on Saturday as a result of penalty runs for a slow over rate means Lancashire start their 50-over campaign struggling in white ball cricket.
Ashley Giles’ side have made a superb start to the County Championship on their return to Division One, currently sitting joint-top of the table. The Lightning are also bidding to become the first side to defend the T20 title and so it is entirely probable that the Royal London will be a third priority this season.
The same may well be the case for Warwickshire, who also have a strong chance of Championship success this season and will want to win back the T20 title they claimed in 2014. As such, this may be a game where both sides tweak their squads in order to manage the substantial workloads.
An impressive T20 victory over Durham on Friday leads the Bears into this contest with some momentum and they will head to Old Trafford looking to kick off a campaign to reach a Lords final for the second time in three years.
Both sides had somewhat underwhelming 50-over campaigns last year, finishing tied in group B on eight points. They both won three and lost three, missing out on the quarter-finals on net run rate.
The Lightning haven’t reached a Lord’s final since 2006, and will be determined to fare better in the competition they dominated back in the 1990s. Captain Steven Croft stressed at the start of the season that they wanted to compete across all three formats and will believe that the Royal London can provide a genuine chance of a trophy for his side.
Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone is fast becoming one of the stars of the season. Having consistently delivered big scores in his debut Championship season, he has also carried that form into the limited-overs format – posting Lancashire’s fastest ever T20 half-century against Yorkshire. Former England captain Michael Vaughan tipped the 22-year-old batsman to be a future England star on Friday and Livingstone has a great chance of being a key man for the Lightning in the 50-over format.
The onus for Warwickshire’s runs often falls on Varun Chopra and the opener will again be crucial to the Bears chances. In his six matches in the competition last season, Chopra averaged 54.25 and comes into the match after a terrific T20 innings on Friday. The right-handed batsman scored 97 from 58 balls and guided his side to a comprehensive victory over Durham. The Bears will look to their opener once again at Old Trafford.
Lancashire may well choose to freshen up their bowling options from their back-to-back T20 games as Neil Wagner and Arron Lilley have been rested, perhaps giving a chance to young Saqib Mahmood or Nathan Buck. Jordan Clark is likely to continue in the side after impressing in the last T20 fixtures and Jos Buttler will feature after being on England duty for the whole of last years’ campaign.
Lancashire squad: Steven Croft (C), Nathan Buck, Karl Brown, Jos Buttler (W), Jordan Clark, Martin Guptill, Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood, Matthew Parkinson, Stephen Parry, Alviro Petersen, Luke Procter, Tom Smith
Ian Bell will spearhead an impressive Warwickshire batting line-up alongside Chopra and Jonathan Trott who will look to make the most of favourable conditions at Old Trafford. Ateeq Javid will hope to build on a solid campaign last season where he averaged 47.76 while Rikki Clarke will be determined to improve of his batting form last year after scoring just 26 runs in his five innings.
Warwickshire squad: TBA
Weather and Conditions
It’s set to be an absolute scorcher at Old Trafford, with the sun set to shine throughout the match and temperatures peaking at 25 degrees. The pitch is likely to be hard and fast, aiding batsman but providing some assistance for the quicker bowlers on show.
Date: 5th June
Ground: Emirates Old Trafford
Umpires: David Milns & Ian Blackwell
Odds: Lancashire 10/11, Warwickshire 10/11