As the World Athletics Championships in London drew to a close on Sunday, it’s now cricket’s turn to be entering the home straight as the group stage of the T20 Blast comes to a close.
It’s a tightly-packed scenario in the North Group, with seventh-placed Lancashire propping up the list of teams battling to make it into the top four after the final round of matches on Friday night.
That, therefore, generates a whole host of scenarios and permutations which, fortunately Ciaran Thomas has explained beautifully here.
Essentially though, the upshot for Lancashire is that only two wins from their final two matches, against Worcestershire and Warwickshire at Old Trafford, will give them any chance of qualifying – and even that might not be enough.
Poor performances and the weather have conspired against the Lightning as a bright start to the campaign hit the buffers, and leaves their fate in the hands of others.
For Worcestershire, no such permutations matter as they are already out of the competition. Only Durham, who started the competition with negative points, are below the Rapids in the table after a disappointing campaign.
These final two matches then are an opportunity for the side to play with the shackles off and try to enter the closing stages of the County Championship, where Worcestershire have a chance of promotion from Division Two, with a spring in their collective step.
Matthew Parkinson only made his Lancashire white-ball debut last month but he has become an integral part of the side. In his seven matches he has taken 12 wickets, including 4-23 in a losing effort at Yorkshire on Friday night. The 20-year-old is proving the value of leg-spin in the shortest form of the game and will hope to thrive once more against Worcestershire.
In a disappointing T20 Blast for the Rapids, only Joe Clarke has provided a real moment of magic. His unbeaten 124 against Durham will be the standout moment of the campaign for Worcestershire and the Rapids captain will want to lead his side to a strong finish to the competition.
Lancashire Squad: TBA
Worcestershire Squad: TBA
Weather and Conditions
There will be two games at Old Trafford on Wednesday, with the Kia Super League clash between Lancashire Thunder and Surrey Stars set to be unaffected by the weather. But the men’s game is set to be hit by rain, maybe limiting the overs available. The Old Trafford pitch can slow up as the ball gets older.
Date: August 16th 2017
Ground: Emirates Old Trafford
Umpires: Neil Bainton & Tim Robinson
Odds (SkyBet): Lancashire 8/15, Worcestershire 6/4