Chapple and Adams chat to DEC on a rainy day at the Ageas

Lancashire head coach Glen Chapple described Alex Davies’ counterattacking 97, on the second day of their match against Hampshire, as the best innings he’s seen this season.

Davies took just 92 balls for his knock before being dismissed three short of his fourth first-class century, quickly knocking off his side’s 75 run first innings deficit.

And during a season in which runs have been sometimes hard to come by – four of their first innings totals this season have been under 300 – Chapple had high praise for Davies.

“He took the attack to the Hampshire bowling,” he said. “He must have thought about his innings, and how he would be most effective on that pitch, and he backed himself to execute that.

“Everyone’s delighted for him: how he’s worked to come through a difficult period last year with injury; the amount of effort he’s put in in the gym to get his knee strong again and to take on keeping and opening the batting.

“We all know it’s a huge challenge and the way he’s responded to that is great to see.

“I’m very disappointed that he didn’t get his hundred, but it was a great knock for the team.”

It could well be that his innings saves the match for Lancashire but doesn’t enable them to win it, after the third day was washed out with long periods of rain for much of the afternoon making the surface unfit for play.

Where Davies had raced through the gears, his opening partner, Haseeb Hameed, batted in exactly the opposite manner, accumulating an unbeaten 77 in 76 overs of play on the second afternoon.

It is his highest score since his second innings in the third Test in India during the winter, and Chapple is glad Hameed is back in the runs.

“He’s played some 2nd team cricket since the break from championship cricket started. He got a hundred at Urmston; he obviously works very hard at his game and he played really well yesterday.

“As his innings went on he became more fluent and that’s what you’d expect to see. Everybody knows that players can go through a struggle at times, and hopefully he’s coming out of it.

“His rate of scoring was going up throughout last season. He was finding more areas to score and put the pressure back on the bowlers.

“At the start of the year he was very determined to occupy the crease and there’s nothing wrong with either approach. Right now, I’m sure his focus is on getting in, staying in, and then going big.”

From a Hampshire perspective, those two innings have turned what looked like a very winnable game into one they could well still lose, dependant on tomorrow’s weather.

“If we’d had some play today, if we could have bowled them out quickly, then we’d still be chasing whatever they got minus 75,” mused Jimmy Adams.

“Looking at it that way, then, possibly it makes it trickier for us to get a positive result which we’d like.

“I suppose, in a way, if we get play tomorrow probably Lancashire are thinking they’re the ones that can post a score, and try and think about how many overs they need to have a go at bowling us out.

“Unfortunately, yesterday we weren’t able to stem their scoring. That was the thing more than anything.

“I think day one we stemmed their scoring when we weren’t taking wickets, but yesterday we weren’t able to do that as effectively.

“The bowlers have done a really good job for the majority of the year, so have the odd off day here and there – and hopefully it is just the odd one. It’s certainly a game where we were in a very good position and we let that slide a bit.”

Fortunately for them, tomorrow’s forecast indicates precipitation in abundance. It should, if nothing else, provide plenty of time for other activities, as it did today: Lancashire’s players were spotted on the Hedge End driving range as the rain fell.

Hameed and Davies fight back to put visitors ahead at the Ageas

Where on the first day the majority of Lancashire’s batsmen had, Kamikaze style, thrown away their wickets in hurried fashion, the second afternoon saw Alex Davies’ counterattacking innings, and then Haseeb Hameed’s determined knock, help drag their side back into their match against Hampshire.

It had looked as though the game was to be a low-scoring thriller but Davies took it by the scruff of the neck, batting with the authority of a man for whom bowlers are little more than a punching bag.

When Lancashire began their second innings, 75 runs adrift of the hosts, they knew they needed to achieve parity at most one wicket down to even up the scales. Davies saw little challenge in the task.

If suggestions had arisen yesterday, of Lancashire failing to readapt after four weeks of Natwest T20 Blast, Davies – who has played none of the shortest form this season – disregarded that concept entirely, taking just 92 balls for his highly impressive 97.

He drove beautifully, pulled gorgeously and drilled the ball through midwicket to glorious effect, all done showing little sign of risk. Davies moved through the eighties with perhaps the only absurd shot of his innings, slog sweeping Ian Holland for six.

It is almost ironic that he fell, not looking to be positive, but simply defending Liam Dawson on the front foot. An inside edge looped up off his pad and James Vince – wicketkeeping after Lewis McManus suffered a blow to the finger – took a terrific diving catch.

Davies scored his maiden first-class century earlier in the season and boasts two more since, this just his second unconverted fifty of the year, yet he is the club’s leading Specsavers County Championship run scorer with 730 to his name.

Though he will certainly feel disappointed to have fallen short of three figures, he did a remarkable job of taking back the game with Hampshire looking on top. And he displayed his talent to England’s chairman of selectors, James Whitaker, to boot. A lack of England Lions experience, and a good but not exceptional run tally, will keep him out for the moment.

The man Whitaker was here to see, Haseeb Hameed, played an innings in stark contrast to that of his opening partner, but one with much more team value. It was a characteristically Hameed knock in substance, if not always in style, and without his grit Lancashire would be once again struggling.

It took him 40 minutes to get off the mark – ten longer than yesterday – and he looked a touch unconvincing even in his patience. The more he dug in, the more fluent he appeared, despite never turning that to rash stroke play, as he had on the first morning.

Hameed contributed just 17 to his stand with Davies – Lancashire’s highest opening partnership of the season – but that mattered little, nor did his rarely fluctuating scoring speed as the afternoon went on. Third ball of the 69th over, his score went past the overs bowled for the first time.

He nurdled his way through the 40s for nearly an hour, before cutting his 154th ball for a single to reach his first first-class half-century since his 59* at Mohali – 21 innings passed between then and now. This was perfectly timed, and may earn him a Test recall.

Hameed’s temperament made it all the more stunning when he slog-swept Dawson for four, his seventh boundary. He did, of course, leave the next ball outside off.

Throughout, he was assisted first by Liam Livingstone, who scored a flashy 40 before being trapped in front, then Dane Vilas – bowled by Mason Crane for a run-a-ball 20 – and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (35), with whom he put on 48 in 18 overs.

Jos Buttler replaced Chanderpaul and struck two sixes before departing, with Ryan McLaren unbeaten alongside Hameed on 77* closing with Lancashire 239 runs ahead and the game tilted perhaps slightly in their favour.

Earlier, Dawson’s highest first-class score of the season had set up Hampshire well, after Kyle Jarvis looked to have evened the game up with a destructive spell of bowling, in which he claimed the first four wickets of the day.

A pair of loose shots either side of the wicket did for both Gareth Berg and Kyle Abbott, feathering behind, with good balls removing Ian Holland (lbw) and Mason Crane (nicking off leaving). Jarvis finished with his best first-class figures in a Lancashire shirt.

Dawson, on 35* when Crane departed, batted smartly with Fidel Edwards, farming the strike and punishing what he could get hold of. He swiftly reached 50 and took the total past 200 – the only batting point of the match – before eventually being bowled around his legs for 75 by Matt Parkinson.

Hameed falters and Hampshire finish on top on day one at the Ageas

With The Ageas Bowl usually offering little for bowlers, with England’s chairman of selectors James Whitaker watching on, and with Keaton Jennings soon to fail again, Haseeb Hameed might well have thought he had the perfect opportunity to earn a Test recall.

He certainly looked like he was playing Test cricket: thirty minutes passed before his first run, and he made six just by the hour mark.

That was, however, all he made. Having batted without feeling the pressure of the slowly ticking scoreboard, he tried driving a very wide one from Fidel Edwards and succeeded only in edging to second slip.

Indeed, the Southampton wicket was not as lifeless as it has been throughout the season – far from it; it is quick and offered plenty of turn and bounce for the spinners.

Lancashire’s choice to bat, upon winning a contested toss, might have been the wrong one, although there were few demons in the pitch – the batsmen were culpable for many of their wickets, a lack of resilience perhaps an issue.

Only Alex Davies looked set and comfortable, driving nicely and finding the boundary regularly. He top-scored with 36 before edging Liam Dawson to first slip, adding just five to his tally after James Vince dropped him at second slip.

Dawson picked up just the one wicket in his 17 over spell but might have had more, Gareth Berg shelling a difficult chance at cover off Jos Buttler.

Mason Crane took three wickets, including two in two balls to end the innings, with the pair of tweakers finding plenty of assistance from the Northern End.

His first over was poor, too short and loose, and his seventh ball wasn’t great but found Ryan McLaren’s leading edge for a caught and bowled.

Jordan Clark hit successive boundaries off Crane but subsequently edged a cut behind for 20, with Matt Parkinson edging a forward defence to first slip the following ball. Lancashire were all out for 149.

James Vince was the pick of the Hampshire batsmen in the evening’s 38 overs. He made his way to 40 in typical James Vince style, driving elegantly and looking to be positive. But that was his downfall, as he top-edged a pull that fell down to midwicket.

His side had appeared in a spot of bother when he strode to the middle, having lost both openers within the first nine overs, despite a strong start. 21 came from the opening four overs – only one single – but two quick wickets left Hampshire needing stability.

Jimmy Adams swished at a wide one from McLaren and was caught behind, before Lewis McManus got a good ball outside off from Kyle Jarvis and edged to the slips.

Sean Ervine, included at three in place of the injured Rilee Rossouw, built a good partnership with Vince worth 61 but chased a wide ball from Jarvis and edged behind for 21. Captain George Bailey made a run more before edging 20-year-old legspinner Parkinson to slip.

Dawson (20*) and Ian Holland (13*) negated a testing final eight overs as the hosts trail by two heading into the second day. The likelihood of this reaching a fourth day already seems remote but the match is poised only slightly in Hampshire’s favour.

“[It’s definitely not a 150 pitch,” said Davies at the close of play. “I think we’ll be a little bit disappointed with the way we batted. We fought back well with the ball but probably gave them a little bit more than what we would have wanted.”

Crane concurred: “I don’t think it did anything outrageous. I wouldn’t have looked at it at the start and said it was a 15 wicket day but we thought we bowled really well and we deserved all ten, and I think they bowled quite well as well.”

Hampshire’s seamers had plugged away from the Pavilion End in tandem with the spinners, with scalps shared around. Holland had Kyle Jarvis caught behind before lunch and, immediately after it, Kyle Abbott bowled a beautiful spell, picking up Liam Livingstone lbw trying to clip to leg.

Buttler was beaten for pace by Edwards and bowled, but not before he ran out Shivnarine Chanderpaul – the West Indian looking every bit ten days short of 43 years of age and unable to make his ground for a quick single; Crane with the direct hit from backward point.

An odd moment, just before Crane’s double, saw Gareth Berg hurt himself after a routine piece of fielding at midwicket, prompting treatment from the physio. He was ultimately fine, came on to bowl the next over and picked up Stephen Parry’s wicket the following over.

Gleeson and Kleinveldt put Northants third with win over Lancashire

Northamptonshire’s Rolls Royce, Richard Gleeson, produced another devastating new ball burst alongside Rory Kleinveldt to banish Lancashire as the Steelbacks completed a 11 run victory.

Chasing a more than achievable 159, Lancashire suffered a powerplay capitulation losing five wickets to fall to 25-5 in a crazy opening to their innings, Gleeson and Kleinveldt sharing four wickets win a run out to cap it off.

Lancashire’s race looked done but Ryan McLaren had other ideas, sharing a sixth wicket stand of 98 with Dane Vilas, leaving 49 needed off 30 balls.

But Vilas fell as, although McLaren recorded a career best 77 from 50 balls, there would be no further support from the tail and, despite hitting the first two balls of the final over for six, there would be no Carlos Brathwaite v Ben Stokes moment for Rory Kleveldt.

McLaren’s heroics prevented what was looking like a heavy defeat after an action packed powerplay, that first saw Gleeson clean up Liam Livingstone in the first over before Kleinveldt removed Aaron Lilly and Karl Brown to leave Lancashire 10-3 in the second.

Jos Buttler scooped a maximum off Gleeson in the third, only to be dropped at fine leg attempting a repeat of the next ball. It wouldn’t prove costly though as, with the first ball of his third and the fifth over, Gleeson sent back the England ‘keepers off stump.

Steven Croft ensured all the top five would depart with single figures to their name as he ran himself out in the sixth, a Kleinveldt maiden as the South African conceded just two from his opening three overs.

McLaren’s innings ensured Northants coach David Ripley was sweating a bit towards the conclusion, but afterwards he praised Gleeson and believed his side deserved the victory despite a slighty under pay batting effort, bouncing back from last ball defeat to Birmingham Bears 48 hours previously.

“I think we deserved the win,” Ripley said, “how we came out with the powerplay, with our bowling. I thought “we can’t lose this game” but it got tight and it was a great partnership; half an hour later we could lose.

“It was a high quality partnership that nearly wrestled the game back in their favour, but I’m really pleased as everyone was down on Tuesday. We came out with a narrow defeat and was important we bounced back.

“We were a bit under par with that score, so it was important that we came out and fought. That powerplay was sensational.

“Richard Gleeson just looks like a Rolls Royce at the moment. He’s got good pace, great control; the yorkers are coming out at will and he’s on fire.”

The Steelbacks effort with the bat was held together by Richard Levi’s 71 as he continued a fine return from concussion that ruled him out of the opening five games of the season.

However he has been making up for lost time ever since, and has now scored 280 runs in five innings in this season’s blast.

“He’s been great,” Ripley added. “So consistent in a format that’s unbelievable to be consistent in.”

There was one horrible moment during the Lancashire collapse as the second wicket of Aaron Lilly saw a sickening collision between Levi, running back from slip at Gleeson haring in from third man.

Levi took a fine diving catch and someone held on despite crashing into Gleeson’s onrushing legs.

Given his recent concussion history there was some concern as he stayed down, but was able to leave the field unaided and emerged afterwards to sign autographs, with Ripley hopefully he’ll be fit to travel to Worcestershire on Saturday.

Northants will not want to be without his batting, though, as he proved the only batsman until McLaren to truly get to grips with a Wantage Road pitch being used for the second time in a week.

Adam Rossington produced another cameo alongside Levi but, after hitting five fours and a six in his 16-ball 29, holed out off Junaid Khan promoting a four over spell of 11 runs and two wickets, Ben Duckett bowled by McLaren for a five ball duck.

Levi pulled sixes off successive Matt Parkinson and Steven Parry overs as he tried to get some momentum back into the innings, but didn’t go to 50 until the 16 from McLaren, which cost 25 as Levi hit three fours and a six to go with a no ball.

They couldn’t capitalise on that, however, as Levi fell. Rory Kleinveldt followed soon after, and the rest of the innings proved a struggled summed up by Alex Wakely’s 37 ball unbeaten 35.

158 looked short at half-time but six overs later it appeared more than enough, until McLaren and Vilas had other ideas.

The pair initially rebuilt, but with 100 needed off nine overs, both took fours and sixes off Rob Keogh to get Steelbacks’ nerves twiching a little bit. When 23 came off overs 14 and 15th combined, the pair remained together, and 49 off five looked like game on.

But it always only needed one wicket, and when Vilas hit Azharullah to long-on to go for 40, the game was up. Gleeson returned and produced another fine yorker to clean up Jordan Clark, before Buck removed Parry.

26 were needed from the final over and McLaren had time for two more defiant blows, but he couldn’t follow it up and the Steelbacks crept home after one of the more bonkers run chases you are likely to see.

Bears go top with last-ball victory over Northants

Birmingham Bears kept their cool to edge past Northamptonshire and go top of the T20 Blast North group, winning by two runs off the final ball at Wantage Road.

The Steelbacks appeared to be in control chasing 173, needing 40 off the final five overs with seven wickets in hand. But Jeetan Patel and Aaron Thomason combined superbly at the death, Thomason’s yorker preventing Wakely getting the three required from the final delivery.

Colin de Grandhomme, who had earlier hit a 16 ball 37, removed Rob Keogh to break a 50 run stand and when Steven Crook came and went, 19-year-old Saif Zaib struggled in his maiden T20 innings, hitting 6 off 10 balls before holing out at the start of the 20th over.

With 13 still required, Wakely lifted Thomason’s second ball for a straight six, which took him to 50, but it was the Bears’ youngster who kept his nerve. The 20-year-old conceded four off the next three, before a final yorker that Wakely could only dig out. It sealed the victory for the visitors.

It means a fourth straight win for the Bears, with a washout in between, as they go above Yorkshire at the top of the North group. They are well placed to quailfy with 13 points from 10 games, whilst Northants remain fourth, three points back with an extra game to play.

“It was a bit of a gamble to bowl the kid [last over] but Aaron bowled a great over,” Bears’ captain Ian Bell said.

“Jeetan is always so solid for us. He’s been fantastic for a long time and he keeps producing the goods.

“Even Colin de Grandhomme, that little performance, his 37; he’ll either get nothing or do what he did today, which got us to a score that gave us a chance.

“This competition’s probably come at a good time for us. The guys have gone out there, found a bit of form and enjoyment.”

The hosts will feel this is one that got away, having got the chase off to a flyer. Richard Levi and Adam Rossington shared 58 inside four and half overs, as 21 came off Boyd Rankin in the second over, with five fours and a further 19 off de Grandhomme in the fourth.

That over included Levi pulling de Grandhomme, hitting the burger stall, and he went one better off Thomason as his pull landed straight into the bar. He would go next ball, though, as a yorker cannoned off his pad and onto the stumps for a 13 ball 33

Rossington and Ben Duckett kept the board ticking over, but Patel removed both with a crucial double strike in the ninth over. Rossington was caught on the midwicket boundary for 33, and next produced a beautiful ball to Duckett, which turned and hit the top of off, to remove the left hander for just nine.

A quiet spell followed but Wakely and Keogh, who have often proved the engine room of Northants’ middle order so far in this competition, looked to be in control. Wakely took three boundaries from the 15th, but the Bears would show their bite to fight back and down the defending Champions.

It was a gritty team display from the Bears, with no real indiviudal stand out. Thomason took home Sky’s man of the match award for his 2-35, but de Grandhomme apart, it was a batting display where several threatened but no-one would go on.

The New Zealander hit three sixes, and although six fellow Bears’ batsmen also cleared the ropes once, none did so more than once, Sam Hain’s 28 the next highest score.

Both openers made starts, but Ed Pollock skied a catch behind and Ian Bell, who uncharacteristically struggled on his way to 16 off 19, was bowled trying to reverse sweep Keogh as the Bears stuttered to 49-2 in the eighth.

Hain and Adam Hose, fresh off his stunning Bears debut last Sunday, looked to have got the innings back on track, but both fell in quick succession, Hose picking out midwicket after lifting Keogh for six, before Hain was run out in a mix-up with de Grandhomme.

De Grandhomme would make up for that, hitting Keogh over the ropes. Two more followed off Ben Sanderson, before pulling Nathan Buck to deep square leg. Buck alslo removed Elliott, bowled with a slower ball, before Keith Barker was six and out.

Patel added the final maximum to drag the Bears up to 172, a total that proved just enough.

“I thought we had the game under control,” Northants captain Alex Wakely admitted afterwards. “Just kept losing wickets at the wrong time.

“After the powerplay, we were very well set. It was one more hit but it was an exceptional one over.

“I think it was about par, as you saw in the powerplay it’s hard to contain and it’s all about the middle overs and they probably bowled better than we did tonight.”

Worcestershire end winless streak with victory at Trent Bridge

Worcestershire achieved their first win of the blast by 13 runs, thanks to some fine death bowling from John Hastings. Hastings (3-31) did not bowl until the 14th over in what was a change of plan from the Rapids to hold their star bowler back until the back end of the innings.

Joe Clarke (60) continued his fine form in this year’s blast with a 22-ball fifty inside the first six overs. With Tom Kohler-Cadmore’s move up to Yorkshire, the 21-year-old has certainly stepped up in his new role at the top of the order, getting his side off to a flier once more. Clarke took 28 off Luke Wood’s second over, including three sixes.

Worcestershire were well placed at 75-1 after seven but preceded to lose four wickets in the next five overs, to end the 12th precariously placed on 107-5. Clarke, Cox (9), Hastings (9), and D’Oliveira (3) all fell before Santner (35) and Whiteley (42) got the Rapids back on track with a partnership of 60 in just 4.2 overs.

Whiteley amassed another five sixes to follow up his stunning performance against Yorkshire at the weekend. It was another left-arm bowler, Harry Gurney, who bore the brunt of Whiteley’s power, taking 22 of his second over.

The Outlaws were able to take wickets at regular intervals as Jake Ball (3-34) and Samit Patel (1-27) were the stars with the ball. The ninth wicket pair of Barnard and Shantry took 16 off the last over to take their side past the 200 mark to finish on 208-8.

In reply Nottinghamshire also got off to a flier, thanks to an opening stand of 92 in 7.2 overs from Alex Hales (63) and Riki Wessels (49). 58 of Hales’ runs came from boundaries during a stunning opening burst.

The back of the chase was not quite broken, however, and the Outlaws stagnated somewhat during the middle overs. The Outlaws would still have been confident of chasing 66 off the final five overs, given the power of their batting line-up, but Hastings accounted for Patel (10), Christian (4), and Wessels (49) to put his side in the ascendancy.

Tom Moores (26*) gave his side hope with a useful cameo, but the equation eventually proving too much. Worcestershire closed out the win and by doing so, open their account in this year’s blast.

 

“I did expect to play more” Tom Alsop on his season so far

Hampshire batsman Tom Alsop says he is disappointed with how little first-team cricket he has played in so far this season.

The 21-year-old featured in all of the club’s Royal London One-Day Cup matches but has played just one Specsavers County Championship match, scoring 40 against Yorkshire.

New signings Rilee Rossouw and George Bailey meant that Alsop has been pushed to the fringes after playing much of last season, but he understands why.

He said: “I did [expect to play more] but when you sign someone with the quality of Rilee Rossouw and George Bailey as well, you’ve got to sum up that it’s probably better for the club with those signings.

“That’s frustrating for me, but it also makes me even more hungry and motivated to do well and get back in the side.

“It’s been quite tough at times especially when you see others playing and you feel like all you want to do is play and do well and win games for Hampshire.”

Batsman Joe Weatherley is currently on loan at Kent, and Alsop has considered utilising the system in place to get first-team cricket if he cannot at Hampshire.

“Ideally, I’d be playing for Hampshire – I love playing for Hampshire and I want to play for Hampshire – but obviously ultimately me as a cricketer, my goal would be to play for England.

“I think you can only do that by performing and doing well in first-class cricket, first-team cricket, and obviously I just want to be playing that.”

Alsop spoke after umpires decided no play would be possible between Hampshire and Surrey at The Ageas Bowl due to rain.

Persistent showers continued until an hour after the scheduled start, giving some hope of play.

But a 4.15pm inspection – and the slow removal of covers – was interrupted by a heavy shower that meant the match was abandoned a few minutes later.

Hampshire had lost their previous two games – to Sussex and Kent, respectively – while Surrey had won their last two and sat top of the South Group.

“Today we wanted to try and get back on track after two losses but very frustrating that the weather’s got in the way,” said Alsop.

“We went off like a train at the start of the competition and [then] had two blips and we wanted to get back on track today.”

They must now wait until Wednesday, and a trip to Taunton, to resume winning ways, but Hampshire have never won a T20 match at the ground.

“Somerset are a very good side and when they play at home as well, I think their home advantage is massive.

“I think the positive thing is that I don’t think all the batters have quite fired either.

“So someone like Rilee, if he gets going -everyone sees what he does at international level as well as that knock earlier in the season at Taunton – so if our batters fire then it’s pretty exciting.”

Jos Buttler relishing Lancashire stint

Jos Buttler is one of the superstars of world cricket. IPL winner, England’s dynamic white-ball keeper-batsmen and, for the next few weeks, Lancashire’s major weapon in the T20 Blast.

His expected omission from England’s Test squad against South Africa means that Lancashire have his services for the entirety of the T20 Blast group stage, as the Lightning seek to regain the title that Buttler helped them win in 2015.

He showed all of his nous and experience in the shortest form of the game by batting through the innings to guide Lancashire to a five-wicket win over Derbyshire last weekend.

Speaking after that win, Buttler revealed how much he is enjoying the chance to be a part of the Lancashire squad.

“I love being back here and playing,” Buttler said.

“It’s a great place to play and a really good, fun group of guys to be a part of. I’m really enjoying some time and being a part of the team. It’s important to get stuck in.”

Lancashire have made a solid start to the competition, winning two of their first four games, suffering a last-ball defeat to Leicestershire and having their Roses clash end in a tie thanks to the weather.

Buttler believes the squad has what it takes to go all the way in the Blast, and is also delighted that the tournament is being played in a block this season.

“We can definitely go on and win the competition. We have loads of bowling options.

“It’s great to have those, and again with the bat we bat very deep. So that’s a huge bonus especially in T20.

“We are a good enough side that if we brush up on a few pieces here and there we can show we are capable of winning the competition.

“For me, playing T20 cricket in blocks is vital. It’s really hard to prepare when you come off the back of a four-day game and you’re trying to practice on the day of a game.

“It’s great to be able to have that period of time practicing, and turn up knowing it’s all about the game.”

At 26, the former Somerset man is no longer a youngster and brings with him a wealth of big-tournament experience at both domestic and international level.

He has been one of the leading men in dragging England’s one-day game into the 21st century, showing his prowess as a 360° player with an array of scoops and sweeps as well as devastating power-hitting.

All of which goes to make him a perfect sounding board for some of Lancashire’s younger talents, the likes of Liam Livingstone, to learn from and Buttler is keen to play that role.

“I think that experience I’ve had is vital,” Buttler explained.

“I probably didn’t understand that when I was 20 when people said that but now, having played a lot of games, been a part of different things around the world, I think that really helps.

“I’ve understood my own game and my preparation a lot more and what works for me. Also to try and impart that on guys in the team and try to offer advice.

“I try to give as much as I can and help out by giving ideas. Crofty has been a brilliant captain for us and its great that he’s done that for a while and he knows the squad well.”

Lancashire have had some difficulty with securing overseas players for this T20 Blast, as both James Faulkner and Mahela Jayawardene withdrew for differing reasons.

But they can call on the vastly experienced Ryan McLaren, who has starred in all formats this season, as well as the return to the club of Pakistan’s Champions Trophy-winning bowler Junaid Khan.

“Junaid is world class, isn’t he?” Buttler said.

“He’s a fantastic bowler. He showed that during the Champions Trophy. He bowled really well in that and in T20 there’s not many better. He’s only played two games and I’m sure he’ll get better and better through the tournament.

“Ryan McLaren, he’s a fantastic overseas signing with lots of experience. It’s great for the team to have experience like that around.”

Buttler clinched the IPL title with the Mumbai Indians earlier in the year, although he was forced to miss the final due to England commitments.

That meant he watched the final at home and we saw that infamous Instagram video of him jumping around in just his towel, with only a strategically-placed blue blob making it broadcast-able!

He’s hoping to make it a T20 double with the Blast this year, but acknowledges there’s a long way to go in the group.

“It’d be nice to do an IPL & T20 Blast double – I can jump around in my towel again!

“Hopefully I could maybe play in this one. I think T20 is a great form of the game, it’s loads of fun.

“We know Finals Day is a brilliant day out, having been there, and it would be really special to go on. But obviously you’ve got to take it phase by phase and you’ve got to qualify for the next round. That’s the most important bit.”

From Stealing Sweets to Scoring Heaps: The Impressive Career of Michael Lumb

When I worked at Headingley back in 2000, I was in the office one day and overheard a conversation between a couple people in the finance department.

They were discussing the expenses claimed by some of the players, and if they could save some money. One particular point of consternation was that of the expenses claimed by a young player, “He doesn’t even play for the first team!” went one, “He can’t play for them, he isn’t qualified yet!” went the other “Why the hell are we paying so much money to him then?” came the reply. At this point David Ryder the then head of finance at the club stepped in and answered with “because Martyn Moxon and the rest of the coaches say he’s going to be the next big thing!”

This left the other two shrugging and mumbling about how they would wait and see etc etc. As I look back with hindsight I’m glad that the coaches, Moxon and Ryder stuck up for that young man as he went on to represent three counties, his country and win The ICC World T20 Championship in his career – a career that was brought to an end yesterday with the announcement that an ankle injury meant he was having to retire with immediate effect.

The young man they were talking about was, of course, Michael Lumb.

Lumb, son of Yorkshire legend Richard Lumb, did qualify for England and went on to play for Yorkshire first team that year against the touring Zimbabwe side, which included the likes of the Flower Brothers, Heath Streak and then captain Bryan Strang (Who I got out whilst bowling to him in the nets, but that’s another story, and one that I tell with great detail!) He made 66 runs, signalling that maybe he was indeed the next big thing.

2001 saw Yorkshire lift the County Championship for the first time in 33 Years. Sadly Lumb’s contributions were limited by a knee injury. He did, however, make his maiden first class century against Leicestershire and again put a flag in the ground for his great potential.

By 2002 he was an integral part of both the Championship and limited overs side, scoring nearly 1000 first class runs including two centuries and six fifties.

By 2005 his Yorkshire career was starting to stall and at the end of the 2006 season Lumb packed up his kit bag and headed south, for warmer climes and a fresh start at the Rose Bowl with Hampshire.

The warmer weather and life in Southampton clearly suited him, as his career kick started and he really came to prominence, especially in the shorter formats of the game. His form in the 2009 season saw him gain a contract for the glitz and glamour of the IPL playing, for the Rajastan Royals.

It was at this time that Lumb’s career really sky rocketed, and the newcomer to the international stage forged such an impressive opening partnership with Craig Kieswetter, leading England to their first ever ICC World Trophy, when Paul Collingwood lifted the World T20 trophy in the Caribbean in 2010.

Lumb went on to play 27 times in the shortest format for his country and 3 times in ODIs, where he scored a century on debut, and finished his ODI career with an average over 50.

Following his World T20 triumph, injury returned in the final year of his Hampshire contract. There was no new contract offer, but The Outlaws came to his rescue offering him a new home at Trent Bridge.

The change again worked out for Lumb, who has gone from his destructive strength to destructive strength in Nottingham.

At Trent Bridge Lumb also confounded the naysayers; those who say he is just a white ball cricketer. He scored over 11,000 first class runs in his career and over 1400 in his first year at Notts.

Despite this, it will always be Lumb’s white ball success that lives in the memory. Just last season he was part of a record opening stand of 342 with Riki Wessells, surpassing the 318 scored by Dravid and Ganguly for India. Lumb made 184 in that partnership, and it was this striking that has made him such a success on the other side of the world. With the Sydney Sixers, Lumb has won The Big Bash T20 league and become a cult hero for the men in pink.

In fact, wherever Lumb has travelled he has been liked by players and fans alike, be it for his entertaining batting or for his friendly personality or a mixture of the two.

I will always remember the cheeky young man who used to steal sweets off my desk in the Headingley office, and how friendly he was to me, but my real lasting memory will be the way he took the attack to the bowlers on the world stage as a relatively unknown and won the World T20 in 2010.

I’m sure that supporters of Notts, Hants, Yorkshire and England will all have their own memories of Michael Lumb in their colours, and will look back fondly at his career – a career cut short by injury, but a career of which he can be proud.

I sometimes wonder if those two finance people remember that conversation from back in 2010 and feel silly about questioning whether Yorkshire should have been paying so much money for him. I, for one, am glad they did and that David Ryder intervened.

Just think of all the memories we may have missed out on, if the bean counters had had their way.

Ian Bell Philosophical in Defeat

How crucial was the loss of Rikki Clarke to a hand injury whilst batting?

“He’s a fine top of the order bowler for us. But I thought we scrapped well in the field without him. The truth is, we were probably 20 runs short.

“170 or so would have been a good score and we were on for that at one stage.”

Was it a good pitch for batting?

“Yes, though the ball did hold in the pitch a bit, especially for the spinners on both sides. We were surprised in that we didn’t think it was going to spin.

“That’s why we brought in Aaron Thomason to add a bit of hitting power, which he did. But we may look to play an extra spinner on Sunday (against Leicestershire).”

What about the wickets the Bears lost to easy outfield catches?

“You get caught one day, you hit a six the next: that’s T20. It’s the way we want the team to play. It’s also how Northants have got where they have.

“We’ve played some good cricket so far and so now we are looking forward to Sunday, to get back on it.”