The biggest rivalry in county cricket is set to take centre stage once again as 19,500 fans will pack into Old Trafford for Lancashire’s T20 Blast clash with Roses rivals Yorkshire.
It will set a record for the biggest attendance for a domestic T20 game outside of London as arguably the flagship match in English county cricket takes place in front of the Sky cameras.
With flags on every seat and a raucous atmosphere anticipated, this is about as close to a Premier League football game as cricket gets and, off the back of last night’s packed-out London derby between Middlesex and Surrey, laughs in the face of the supposed ills of T20 cricket in this country.
Last season’s clashes ended honours even, with the Lightning taking the spoils at Old Trafford before Yorkshire levelled things up with a five-run victory at Headingley. The Vikings went on to reach Finals Day, while 2015 Blast champions Lancashire were eliminated at the group stage.
Yorkshire will make the journey across the Pennines having been frustrated by the weather in midweek, as their clash with reigning champions Northants was washed out without a ball being bowled.
It means the Vikings take on their old rivals with one win to their name, in the opener against Nottinghamshire at Headingley. They were then beaten a day later by Derbyshire.
Lancashire also have one win and one defeat, having only played two games, with a resounding win at Durham followed up by a frustrating last-ball defeat against Leicestershire at Liverpool.
With such a huge crowd in attendance and with the challenge of taking old your old rivals, the players are set to be under increased pressure, something Lancashire skipper Steven Croft is hoping his side can thrive on.
“The lads will always be up for a Roses game at home,” Croft said.
“It’s massively exciting to have so many people coming. It will probably feel like an international game with the crowd and the lads will relish that and hopefully play a good game to get us back on track.
“We’ve got some big players who like to do well on the big stage. We’ve got a great record at Old Trafford and a great record in T20. Our record against Yorkshire is good too at Old Trafford, it’s a great place to do it and it gets the best out of the lads.”
Lancashire’s batting order has drawn some attention at the start of the competition, with the decision to bat off-spinner Arron Lilley in the top three a particularly eye-catching move. But their collapse against Leicestershire showed the need for a man who can bat through an innings and that responsibility should fall to Liam Livingstone.
Coming off an exceptional winter with the England Lions and having recently made his full England debut, eyes are on the 23-year-old like never before. His 48 last week against Leicestershire was powerful and elegant but he needs to bat more time to anchor the innings for his side from his position as opener, to allow the firepower of the likes of Jos Buttler to do the damage.
Yorkshire will want to see a lot more from their new recruit Tom Kohler-Cadmore. The 22-year-old, drafted in mid-season from Worcestershire, hit the fastest century in the T20 Blast last season but has so far struggled to reproduce that form for the Vikings. His two innings so far have yielded scores of 5 and 0 and his new county will hope he can find his touch at the top of the order at Old Trafford.
Lancashire will be delighted to welcome overseas signing Junaid Khan, who won the Champions Trophy with Pakistan last month, into their ranks after his arrival was delayed by a week due to Visa issues. Ryan McLaren is set to return after missing the Leicestershire clash, while Danny Lamb could continue after impressing in his absence.
Lancashire squad: Steven Croft (c), Tom Bailey, Jos Buttler (wk), Karl Brown, Jordan Clark, Kyle Jarvis, Rob Jones, Junaid Khan, Danny Lamb, Arron Lilley, Liam Livingstone, Ryan McLaren, Matthew Parkinson, Stephen Parry, Dane Vilas
Yorkshire added Karl Carver to their squad named against Northants. Adam Lyth will look to continue his impressive start to the campaign from the top of the order, while England internationals David Willey and Adil Rashid spearhead the attack.
Yorkshire squad: Tim Bresnan (c), Karl Carver,Ben Coad,Matthew Fisher,Peter Handscomb (wk),Tom Kohler-Cadmore,Jack Leaning,Adam Lyth,Shaun Marsh,Steven Patterson,Azeem Rafiq,Adil Rashid,Matthew Waite,David Willey
Weather and Conditions
The match is set to be cloudy but dry and fine. Old Trafford generally is a quick, hard pitch but can also offer something for the spinners.
Date: July 14th 2017
Ground: Emirates Old Trafford
Umpires: Peter Hartley, Martin Saggers & David Milns (TV Umpire)
Odds (SkyBet): Lancashire 1/1, Yorkshire 4/5