Forty-eight hours on from their remarkable Royal London One Day Cup opener with Nottinghamshire, Northants return to Wantage Road to face Lancashire, looking to take the positive momentum from coming so close to a world record run chase.
The Steelbacks posted 425, smashing their previous List A best, but it was still 20 short of the 445-8 Nottinghamshire made, the two sides sharing an aggregate of 870, the highest ever for a game in England.
Whilst a repeat of that is highly unlikely at Wantage Road on Wednesday, or indeed for many years to come, it showed the fight and character of a Northants team that has started the Natwest T20 Blast with three wins from three.
Lancashire though arrive on the back of an opening win, beating Warwickshire by 42 runs at Old Trafford, powered by a 73 ball 91 from Jos Buttler, the England man making his One Day debut for the Red Rose.
With Buttler unlikely to join up with the England ODI squad until the end of this current block of One Day Cup matches, his presence could ensure Lancashire are in a strong position for qualification when the competition reaches its half way stage.
Stephen Parry took three wickets in that victory and Lancs slow bowlers are once again going to be key, especially in putting the squeeze on in the middle overs, a key part of their T20 winning side last year.
They of course beat Northants in the final to lift the trophy at Edgbaston last August, the last meeting between these two sides, who meet twice this season, but those clashes come within eight days of each other, the 50 over clash followed by a T20 encounter in Manchester next Thursday.
Josh Cobb was Northants’ leading run scorer in the RLODC last year and is just coming into form nicely for the upcoming block of white ball cricket; an unbeaten half century in T20 last Friday followed by a quickfire 29 to get the chase of 446 off the ground. An experienced head now at the top of the order, his runs will be key to provide an explosive middle order a good platform.
It may be obvious but it’s hard to look beyond Jos Buttler as Lancashire’s key man, the England batsman showing all his variety in his 91 against Warwickshire and fresh out of the IPL, the wicketkeeper will be keen to find 50 over form before England’s upcoming ODI serious and he’s capable of winning a game from almost any situation.
It hasn’t been a good week for Northants injury wise, who confirmed Olly Stone has ruptured his ACL and is likely to miss the rest of the season, an injury suffered in celebration of a wicket in last Friday’s T20.
Richard Levi and Rory Kleinveldt were both injured in Monday’s encounter at Trent Bridge, despite Kleinveldt smashing 128 of 69 balls with a runner, and are serious doubts for Wednesday, although Sri Lankan leg spinner Seekkuge Prasanna could replace Kleinveldt as Northants’ overseas.
Weather and conditions
The forecast is mixed for Wednesday afternoon/evening in Northampton, with showers and rain forecast throughout, so a full 50 over contest looks unlikely. T20 pitches have been excellent so far at Wantage Road this year and another good surface should be expected.
Date: Wednesday 8th June
Ground: Wantage Road, Northampton
Umpires: David Millns, Billy Taylor
Odds: Northants 10/11, Lancashire 8/11