Lancashire narrowly defeat Middlesex in seaside scramble

There is something extremely charming about county cricket played at outgrounds. The sight of ice cream vans basking in the sun. The smell of burger vans wafting across the ground. The joy of reporting from a tent within touching distance of the boundary rope. It’s enough to bring a smile to the most downhearted of souls.

There weren’t too many batsmen with smiles on their faces at Blackpool today though, as the pitch offered pace, seam movement and some uneven bounce. Ultimately, Lancashire scrambled home in a low-scoring contest with two wickets to spare as Stephen Parry and Tom Bailey held their nerve to secure the win.

Middlesex were under the pump from the start, losing wickets at regular intervals and failing to bat out their overs. Their total of 161 was in no small part thanks to the eighth and ninth wicket stands of 28 and 50 as the tail wagged magnificently.

It looked as though those late order runs would prove decisive when Lancashire stuttered to 63-4, but a 47-run partnership between James Faulkner and Jordan Clark got them within touching distance and the bowlers saw them home by two wickets.

Steven Croft’s decision to stick Middlesex in was vindicated by a superb opening spell by Tom Bailey. He took 3-24 from his first six overs to leave Eoin Morgan’s men in choppy waters at the seaside. The pitch showed plenty of pace and some variable bounce and Bailey had Malan caught behind for 14 with one that reared up at the opener before Sam Robson dragged on with one that kept a little low. That left Middlesex struggling at 28-2 and when Bailey had his third in the ninth over, the visitors were swimming helplessly against the tide. A careless shot from Nick Compton gifted an easy catch to Jordan Clark to leave his side 36-3.

Morgan and James Franklin set about paddling furiously to try and drag their side back into the contest. Morgan perished in the nineteenth over as he nicked a bouncer from James Faulkner through to Alex Davies for a 33-ball 17 and Middlesex were 67-4. Nick Gubbins edged Jordan Clark to slip for just one in the next over and Franklin soon joined him back in the dressing room for 12 from 46 when he skied a Faulkner delivery to Bailey at cover. Middlesex were 74-6 at their top order had been blown away.

Lancashire’s all-green kit has caused quite a stir and it is fair to say it is not exactly fetching. In truth, it looks as though someone has scattered 11 Birdseye garden peas across the ground. It didn’t put them off their stride though as Rayner was next to depart when he edged Gavin Griffiths behind for three to make it 83-7 after 27.1 overs.

John Simpson and James Harris put on the second-highest partnership of the innings of 28 for the eighth wicket before local boy Steven Croft trapped Simpson lbw for 20 in the 37th over and Middlesex were 111-8.

Harris and Toby Roland-Jones then put on the biggest stand for the ninth wicket with a 50 partnership. Stephen Parry swiftly wrapped up the innings when Roland-Jones was caught on the boundary by Griffiths for 29 before top-scorer Harris top-edged to Prince for 32. The lower order resistance guided Middlesex to 161 all out from 46.5 overs – a competitive if disappointing total.

Junaid Khan signed for Middlesex this week and gave his former county an early reminder of his talents by removing Ashwell Prince for one in the third over when the South African picked out Nick Compton at backward point.

Alviro Petersen arrived at the crease and, alongside Karl Brown, made batting look easy as they moved the score onto 49-1 after nine overs. James Harris was introduced to replace the expensive Roland-Jones and struck with his second ball as Petersen put a drive down the throat of Morgan at mid-off and departed for 14. Brown carried on his merry way and successive boundaries at the start of the eleventh over took him to 36 before Khan had him caught at slip by Rayner to reduce Lancashire to 59-3. When skipper Croft also departed just two overs later, the home side were looking edgy at 63-4.

Faulkner and Paul Horton steadied the ship and were stroking the ball around nicely. James Franklin just got one to nip away from Horton in the 21st over and the edge carried to Rayner at slip. Lancashire were 92-5 and the game ground to a halt as they scored just one run in the next 16 balls before Alex Davies edged Roland-Jones to the keeper at it was 93-6. While the required run rate was around 2.50 an over, Lancashire were anxious about the wickets in hand.

The 47-run stand between Faulkner and Clark was crucial, but when both fell in quick succession, Lancashire still had work to do and with just two wickets in hand, there was plenty of tension among the home supporters. They needed 15 runs from 42 balls when Bailey and Parry came together. Eoin Morgan bowled out his main bowlers in pursuit of wickets and so had to turn to the part-time spin of Dawid Malan and Lancashire’s lower order picked off him and Ollie Rayner to secure the win with 13 balls to spare.

RL One-Day Cup: Essex v Warwickshire

Essex and Warwickshire meet at Chelmsford on Wednesday in a dress rehearsal for their T20 Blast quarter-final. The two teams experienced contrasting fortunes in their opening RL One-Day Cup matches with Essex coming out on top against Lancashire and the Bears suffering a reverse against Nottinghamshire.

The Eagles are riding a crest of a wave at the moment with eight victories in their last ten completed one-day matches. A late surge saw them qualify for the T20 knockout stage and they have good pedigree in the 50 over competition. Their last triumph at Lord’s came in 2008 whilst they have also tasted success in the Pro40 League in recent years.

They look set to challenge again this year with a stellar batting lineup headed by Ravi Bopara who is fresh from an unbeaten century against Lancashire. Jesse Ryder and Ryan ten Doeschate will add impetus at the end of the innings whilst Graham Napier and David Masters will add potency to the bowling attack. Paul Grayson is blessed with a confident team and the Eagles fans will be expecting another win on Wednesday.

Warwickshire can also call upon a mixture of experience and youth for their RL One-Day cup campaign. The team is well led by Varun Chopra who may have Jonathan Trott beside him at the crease in Chelmsford. The top order was destroyed by Dan Christian on Sunday and may face similar problems on Wednesday with Ian Bell back on England duty. Jeetan Patel and Rikki Clarke have 38 wickets apiece in the County Championship whilst young leg-spinner Josh Poysden will also be looking to impress in this tournament. The bookies are struggling to separate the two sides, suggesting it could be a cracking match at the County Ground.

Key Men

Whilst Ravi Bopara grabbed the headlines against Lancashire, he was given excellent bowling support by Reece Topley. The young left-armer has recovered from a back injury over the winter to be one of Essex’s main threats in 2015. Despite not being a regular in the County Championship side, he snared 14 victims in the T20 Blast with the combination of swing and accuracy proving lethal. He brought that form into the RL One-Day Cup by dismissing Ashwell Prince in the first over on Monday. A call up to the England squad for the T20 against New Zealand shows that he is in the selectors’ minds and another good performance against Warwickshire will continue his upward curve.

The return of Chris Woakes has provided a boost to the Bears who already boast a strong one-day side. The all-rounder represented England in the World Cup earlier this year collecting impressive figures against Scotland and New Zealand. However, a knee injury ruled him out of action for the first half of the season. He showed little signs of rustiness against Durham in his first match back as he collected four wickets and 29 runs. The battle between Woakes and Bopara on Wednesday could prove vital in which team comes out on top.

Team News

The Eagles have named an unchanged squad from the Lancashire match and Paul Grayson is unlikely to tinker with the final line up. The lack of injuries has helped Essex in the limited overs competitions this season but they still lack a regular spinner. Aron Nijjar may challenge Kishen Velani for his spot whilst Jamie Porter provides seam back up.

Essex squad: Ryan ten Doeschate (C), Ravi Bopara, Nick Browne, James Foster (WK), David Masters, Graham Napier, Aron Nijjar, Mark Pettini, Jamie Porter, Jesse Ryder, Reece Topley, Kishen Velani, Tom Westley

Warwickshire will be forced into at least one change from their last match as Ian Bell joins up with the England squad. He could be replaced by former international Jonathan Trott who is pushing for a recall. Varun Chopra should be fit after a wrist injury but Jonathon Webb may miss out after injuring his shoulder against Nottinghamshire. The Bears fielded three slow bowlers last time out but they may have to change tactics on a Chelmsford track that will favour the seamers.

Warwickshire squad: TBA

Weather and conditions

It should be a dry and fine day in Chelmsford with temperatures around 18˚C throughout the afternoon. The pitch favoured the batsmen in the T20 Blast but Lancashire’s low score on Monday indicates it could be harder in this competition. The floodlights should have little effect with sunset not due to take place until 9pm.

Date: 29th July 2015

Time: 2pm

Ground: County Ground, Chelmsford

Umpires: Nick Cook and Neil Mallender

Odds (Bet365): Essex 4/5, Warwickshire 1/1

RL One-Day Cup Preview: Northants v Leicestershire

After suffering a record 220 run defeat to Surrey on Monday evening, Northants will look to bounce back quickly as they host a Leicestershire side on Wednesday who have yet to get their campaign underway following a washout on Sunday.

While Northants have avoided the weather playing on Saturday and Monday, they may wish some had arrived at the Oval, where they were smashed around by Jason Roy and co, conceding 343 and could only make 123 in reply, bowled out in 24 overs.

Having lost their opening two games following defeat to Durham in the opener, the Steelbacks know they can ill afford a third loss if they are to challenge for the quarter finals in an eight game group stage that leaves little time for the recovery they showed in the t20.

Leicestershire meanwhile will look to start their competition on a high note and put behind the disappointment of a t20 campaign that started brightly but tailed off in the second half, the Foxes out of contention before the final week of games.

Key Men

The only bright spot from an awful Northants batting display at the Oval was Ben Duckett, who hit his second successive fifty in the competition. The 20-year-old has been in exceptional form in all forms in recent weeks, and is likely to be given a chance further up the order, having batted at seven in the opening two games.

Leicestershire announced on Tuesday that Clint McKay had signed a contract for the next two years as their overseas player, and the experienced Australian will be looking to celebrate with a positive performance on Wednesday, using his international experience to boost an otherwise youthful attack.

Team News

Northants have made just the one change to their squad following the opening two defeats, with Richard Levi being rested for Wednesday, replaced in the 12 man squad by Saif Zaib, the highly rated 17-year-old who could make his senior debut, while Olly Stone is the other option to come in.

Northants Squad: Alex Wakely (c), Mohammed Azharullah, Josh Cobb, Steven Crook, Ben Duckett, Rob Keogh, Rory Kleinveldt, Adam Rossington, David Willey, Graeme White, Olly Stone, Saif Zaib.

Leicesteshire were set to give a debut to Michael Burgess on Sunday after the wicketkeeper batsman signed a contract until the end of the season, so the 21-year-old’s chance could come at Wantage Road instead.

Leicestershire Squad: TBC

Weather and conditions

The rain of the last few days is set to clear by Wednesday with a dry day forecast for Northampton, with sun battling with cloud throughout the evening, and temperatures set to remain in the late teens.

The opening game at Wantage Road saw Durham post 315, continuing the trend of good batting surfaces in white ball cricket at the ground this season.

Date: 28th July 2015

Time: 2:00pm

Venue: Wantage Road

Umpires: Steve Garratt, Steve O’Shaughnessey.

Odds (SkyBet): Northants 8/11, Leicestershire 5/4

RL One-Day Cup Preview: Gloucestershire v Derbyshire

Rain has had an unwelcome role in the first batch of RLODC matches played by these two counties, although two of the three games played by Gloucestershire and Derbyshire have brought results.

Both the finished games involved Derbyshire. In their first tie at Taunton they easily defeated Somerset in a rain-affected affair. After a late start, Derbyshire posted 134/7 from 14 overs with Wayne Madsen hitting 45 from 27 balls. The hosts were then bowled out for 74, after they had been set 104 to win from ten overs. On Monday at Derby the Midlanders lost to Yorkshire by seven runs. Set 197 from 29 overs Derbyshire ended on 189/9 despite a spirited 56 from Hamish Rutherford.

Gloucestershire travelled to Scarborough on Sunday to play Yorkshire. The Bristol side did well to bowl the Tykes out for 227 in the 50 overs with Craig Miles taking 4/29 from nine overs. However the rain arrived as Gloucestershire had just started their innings and the match was abandoned.

Key Men

Most of the bowling plaudits for Gloucestershire this season have been taken by Craig Miles and Liam Norwell, but it may be that third seamer James Fuller is striking form at just the right time for the 50 over competition. He has taken 16 Championship wickets at 35 apiece and 13 T20 scalps at 28. These aren’t the most striking statistics but the 25-year-old Kiwi bowls at an impressive pace which often has batters playing a shade late. Accuracy has often suffered as a result, however, eight wickets in the two recent Championship matches at Cheltenham and 3/45 from eight overs at Scarborough on Sunday suggest he is gaining some much-needed consistency.

When Derbyshire played at Bristol earlier in the season they were blown away by a terrific match-winning double century by Martin Guptill. Since then Guptill has been replaced by 26-year-old fellow New Zealand Test batsman Hamish Rutherford. Rutherford may not possess the firepower that his fellow Kiwi demonstrated at Nevil Road, but his 16 Tests have shown him to be a solid batsman capable of building strong foundations in 50 over cricket. He made his maiden century for Derbyshire at Chesterfield earlier this month and is averaging 45 in red-ball cricket for the Midland county.

Team News

Gloucestershire have added Will Tavare and Liam Norwell to the team that played at Scarborough on Sunday.

Gloucestershire squad: Michael Klinger (c), Chris Dent, Gareth Roderick (wk), Benny Howell, Geraint Jones, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Jack Taylor, James Fuller, Craig Miles, Tom Smith, David Payne, Will Tavare, Liam Norwell

Derbyshire are likely to travel to Bristol with the following squad, which includes Ben Slater and Greg Cork, absent from the game against Yorkshire.

Derbyshire squad: Wes Durston, Billy Godleman, Hamish Rutherford, Ben Slater, Chesney Hughes, Wayne Madsen (C), Alex Hughes, Shiv Thakor, Tom Poynton (wk), Matt Critchley, Greg Cork, Ben Cotton, Mark Footit

Weather and conditions: Cloudy and dry.

Date: July 29th 2015.

Time: 10.30

Venue: Nevil Road, Bristol

Umpires: Jeff Evans and Alex Wharf.

Odds: Gloucestershire 4/5, Derbyshire 1/1.

RL One-Day Cup Preview: Lancashire v Middlesex

With the tower, deckchairs and sticks of rock, cricket is perhaps not the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Blackpool but, when Lancashire and Middlesex square off at Stanley Park on Wednesday, they will be seeking to prove that they do like to be beside the seaside.

Both will be hopeful that there will be some sun to accompany the sea and sand as the two sides, among many others, have been hampered by the weather in the early stages of the competition. Middlesex saw their only scheduled fixture so far rained off against Warwickshire at Lord’s without a ball being bowled while rain and Ravi Bopara have stood in the way of Lancashire. Their clash with Sussex at Horsham never got started, while a century from the England all-rounder saw them lose their second match to Essex.

It’s probably fair to say that the One Day Cup isn’t particularly high on Lancashire’s list of priorities. Despite a healthy lead at the top of Division Two, County Championship promotion remains their main focus while their progression to the T20 quarter-finals means the Blast will be their white-ball priority.

Middlesex endured a dismal T20 Blast campaign, finishing bottom of their group and offering very little for their fans to get excited about. Therefore they will want to improve on those performances in 50-over cricket and are free to have a real tilt at the competition with their County Championship season going nicely.

Both sides will be desperate to fare better in this year’s competition than they did last year, with Lancashire winning just twice and Middlesex just three times.

On paper, Middlesex are the stronger outfit, lead by England limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan and boasting international experience in James Franklin, Mitchell McClenaghan and the newly-signed Junaid Khan.

Key Men

Karl Brown has made himself into a crucial batsman for Lancashire this season and has begun to show some dynamic and consistent form, especially in the T20 Blast. He notched half-centuries in three of his last four T20 innings and boasts a strike rate in the competition of 128.97. He has also taken up his place in the Championship side, opening the batting alongside Paul Horton and has scored six 50’s and averaged and impressive 45.36. It is his ability to strike the ball cleanly that Lancashire will look for against Middlesex and his performances at number three are pivotal for their one-day fortunes.

Former Lancashire man Junaid Khan has joined Middlesex as an overseas player just in time to face his old county. Renowned for his superb death bowling and toe-crushing Yorkers, Khan will be a valuable addition to the Middlesex squad. The Pakistan international was a big success during his time at Old Trafford and Lancashire will be wary of the threat he possesses when they face him on Wednesday.

Team News

Lancashire have tended to blood some of their younger players across different formats this season and it will be no surprise to see something similar here. Gavin Griffiths played in the Essex game, while the likes of George Edwards, Toby Lester and Liam Livingstone have all featured this year. They may also choose to add Arron Lilley to the side as a double-spin option alongside Stephen Parry, depending on the conditions at Blackpool.

Lancashire squad: TBC

Middlesex are hopeful that Paul Stirling will pass a late fitness test to enable him to play and have named the Ireland international in their 15-man squad. Joe Burns has left Middlesex to join up with the Australia A squad and his spot as the overseas player has been filled by Pakistan bowler Junaid Khan. John Simpson was their top scorer in the T20 Blast competition and Middlesex are hopeful he can repeat that form in the longer format.

Middlesex squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Nick Compton, Neil Dexter, James Franklin, Nick Gubbins, James Harris, Junaid Khan, Dawid Malan, Ravi Patel, Ollie Rayner, Sam Robson, Toby Roland-Jones, Gurjit Sandhu, John Simpson (wicketkeeper), Paul Stirling

Weather and conditions

It’s rained almost non-stop in Blackpool since Sunday but the forecast is for a brighter day on Wednesday with sunshine mixed with the odd shower.

Date: 29th July 2015

Time: 10:30am

Ground: Stanley Park, Blackpool

Umpires: Mark Benson & Jeremy Lloyds

Odds: Lancashire 4/5, Middlesex Evens

 

Roy, Davies star as Northants capitulate

Jason Roy smashed a century, with Steven Davies adding 99 as Surrey inflicted a 220-run defeat on Northants at the Kia Oval, the visitors’ heaviest in one day cricket.

Roy’s 108 saw Surrey post 343/5, and needing a record breaking run chase, the Steelbacks were breaking records for all the wrong reasons as they were bowled out for 123, Ben Duckett offering the only resistance with 56.

It was a second defeat in three days to begin the One-Day Cup, a tournament they had high hopes for following qualification for the t20 Blast quarter finals, but with only six games remaining those hopes lie in tatters after a demoralising evening in the capital.

Alex Wakely’s men slipped to 11/3, 27/5 and then 61/8 as only Rob Keogh of the top six made it out of double figures, before Duckett’s second successive half-century took them beyond three figures, but the margin of defeat broke a record set in 1973, when the county lost by 190 runs to Kent at Brackley.

Surrey were on top from the start as Roy and Steven Davies shared 195 for the opening wicket, Davies making 99, and although the final total represented a decent recovery, the total was still the second highest Northants have conceded to county opposition, one run shy of the 344 by Gloucestershire in 2001.

England opener Roy signalled his intent when taking three boundaries off David Willey’s third over, though in his next Keogh couldn’t hold on to a tough low catch diving forward at point. After reaching 62/0 from the opening powerplay, Roy stepped through the gears, hitting Mohammed Azharullah for six before reaching a half century in 37 balls as 106 runs came from the second ten overs.

Rory Kleinveldt in particular was bearing the brunt as his second spell of two overs cost 36, twice lifted for six by Davies, though in between Roy had his second life as Graeme White dropped a high catch at deep midwicket off Josh Cobb.

That chance was the only false shot Roy offered in a brilliant century, coming up in 74 balls with 14 fours and a six but he would fall soon after, chipping Cobb to Willey, standing in as captain after Alex Wakely had injured his hand dropping Davies shortly before.

Cobb, White and Keogh combined to bowl 29 overs at less than a run a ball as Northants fought back well once Roy had been dismissed to limit the hosts to their eventual total when a score of 400 or more appeared on the cards at the half way point.

Kumar Sangakkara showed his class with 34 but Azharullah returned to remove both him and Davies within three overs, Davies falling agonisingly short of a century steering to point, after Sangakkara was bowled.

White removed Ben Foakes and Gary Wilson as the hosts stuttered, only for a late rally by Zafar Ansari and James Burke to add 45 in the final four overs.

If Surrey’s openers had provided the perfect start, Northants’ couldn’t have been more different as Richard Levi was bowled by Jade Dernbach from the first ball of the reply.

Cobb and Wakely soon followed, both edging behind to Dernbach and Sam Curran respectively as Northants found themselves 11/3.

That would become 27/5 as Adam Rossington pulled Curran straight into his brother Tom’s hands at short fine leg, and Willey became the 17-year-old’s third victim as he was trapped LBW to the third ball he faced.

Keogh and Duckett added 18 for the sixth wicket, but the procession soon continued as the later was bowled by Burke for 16, and Steven Crook and Kleinveldt soon followed in quick succession.

Duckett and Graeme White restored some creditability to the Northants display, lifting the score into three figures with a partnership of 49, Duckett continuing his recent form with a second one day half century following his maiden fifty against Durham on Saturday.

He hit five fours and two sixes to reach the milestone in 40 balls, but when he was bowled by Ansari, Azharullah quickly followed as Northants were bowled out from the final ball of the 24th over.

All-round Bopara overcomes Lancashire at Chelmsford

Ravi Bopara inspired Essex to an emphatic seven-wicket win over Lancashire in their first full Royal London One-Day Cup match.

Heavy rain prevented either side from playing their opening game of the competition on Saturday, but there was no concern of abandonment again after mischievous looking clouds departed Chelmsford midway through the first innings.

Lancashire were made to suffer in that time, though, having been asked to bat first. Taking advantage of the overhead conditions, Bopara offered a reminder of his canny ability with the ball, taking 4/31, his best 50-over bowling figures in four years, before a majestic unbeaten knock of 101 secured all the points.

In truth, he and all the bowlers benefitted from a pitch that looked as vibrantly green in places as Lancashire’s new lime-coloured luminous kit. There was little in favour for batsmen in the early stages, as Essex’s battery of medium-pacers maintained tight lines to restrict the visitors to 161/9 off their 50 overs.

That they managed to post a total of such stature was thanks to the 44-run seventh-wicket partnership between Alex Davies and Jordan Clark. The pair moved Lancashire on from the perilous position of 66/6 to 110 before the latter miscued his shot and saw it land safely in the hands of sub-fielder Arron Nijjar.

Buoyed by progress through to the T20 Blast quarter-finals on Friday night following a nervy spell watching rivals Glamorgan’s scorecard, Essex looked lively from the start. Reece Topley showed early intent, cartwheeling Ashwell Prince’s off stump three balls into the game, bringing one back into the batsman.

David Masters – turning up late due to a traffic jam on his journey in – needed only a five-minute warm-up before he produced a devilish 10-over spell that rewarded the batsmen with a measly 20 runs.

Lancashire were unable to push on after the sluggish start and, when Kyle Brown departed trapped before off Graham Napier for 21, it triggered a collapse of five wickets for the addition of a mere 22 runs.

Masters then snuck the ball through Alviro Petersen’s attempted lofted shot with a slower ball, prior to Bopara claiming his first wicket, inducing an edge off in-form Steven Croft behind to James Foster.

Paul Horton fell in Bopara’s next over mistiming a drive, caught by Jesse Ryder, prior to the New Zealander dismissing Australian James Faulkner for two. It was quite differing conditions for the World Cup winner, who was featuring in his first 50-over game since the March final.

Davies displayed steel lacking up to that point from the Lancashire innings, improvising well to steer a Topley short ball over the slips for four. Joined by Clark, who demonstrated control before unleashing a couple of rasping shots, they pair shifted the score along comfortably.

After Clark left, Topley had Davies chipping one to Ryan ten Doeschate, followed six overs alter by Kyle Jarvis bowled by Bopara.

The hosts required just 33 overs to reach the diminutive total, Bopara making easy work of the chase, hitting 13 fours and three sixes in his innings. Kyle Jarvis provided some mean of defence, at one point restricting the batsmen to five runs off his first five overs, but it was always going to prove tough, picking up just the two wickets of Tom Westley and Mark Pettini.

The latter went to a sensational one-handed catch over the shoulder by Prince on the run from mid off, yet even after Nick Browne departed to Clark, the game was beyond Lancashire, Bopara striking a four to win and bring up his century.

 

RL One-Day Cup Preview: Essex v Lancashire

Essex and Lancashire will be hoping to begin their campaigns in earnest on Monday, after both suffered from inclement weather in their opening Royal London One-Day Cup matches, as a swathe of rain hammered the south of England, preventing all but one of the opening Sunday contests from going ahead.

Essex travelled to Tunbridge Wells for their second abandoned game with Kent in the space of three days, having seen their final T20 Blast fixture called off on Friday, while Lancashire visited Sussex at Horsham hoping to kick-start their 50-over campaign.

The outcome meant each side were awarded a single point, leaving them lagging behind a strong Notts Outlaws side who comprehensively won on Saturday and will be looking to go further than their 2014 semi-final finish this year.

Essex enter the match with confidence after securing a T20 Blast quarter-final place, albeit in the knowledge that they achieved it without being at their best consistently. With that in mind, and possessing a clutch of experienced short-format all-round operators, the hosts must look to replicate their 2014 form and battle it out for Group B top spot.

For visitors Lancashire Lightning, last season was a chastening experience in the 50-over competition, suffering a surprise dip in comparison to their sublime T20 Blast performances. While promotion from County Championship Division Two looks wrapped up already, attention will remain on ensuring a safe passage back to the top tier. Combine that with progression in the T20 and the One-Day Cup may again be quickly over for Lancashire.

 

Key Men

Jesse Ryder may have missed out on a hundred for Essex in last year’s One-Day Cup, but the New Zealander demonstrated why he is still such a force in short-format cricket, finishing top run-scorer for the club. He’s backed that up in 2015 for the Eagles in the T20 Blast, and with fewer bowling commitments in this discipline, it should allow Ryder greater freedom with the bat.

Lancashire captain Steven Croft scored three half-centuries in 2014’s 50-over competition yet couldn’t convert any into triple figures. However with the form he takes into this year’s edition following an impressive T20 Blast showing, expect to see Croft in the runs once more. On a Chelmsford pitch that has so far in 2014 aided bowlers, any batsman who can contribute significantly will likely swing the result in their team’s favour.

Team News

Both sides stick with the same squads they picked for their opening washed-out matches.

Essex Eagles squad: Ryan ten Doeschate (c), Jesse Ryder, Mark Pettini, Tom Westley, Ravi Bopara, James Foster, Kishen Velani, Graham Napier, David Masters, Reece Topley, Nick Browne, Jamie Porter, Aron Nijjar

Lancashire Lightning squad: Steven Croft (c), Tom Bailey, Karl Brown, Jordan Clark, Alex Davies, James Faulkner, Gavin Griffiths, Paul Horton, Kyle Jarvis, Arron Lilley, Stephen Parry, Alviro Petersen, Luke Proctor, Ashewell Prince

Date: 27th July 2015

Time: 2:00pm

Venue: Chelmsford

Umpires: Martin Bodenham and David Millns

Odds (SkyBet): Essex 4/5, Lancashire 1/1

RL One-Day Cup Preview: Surrey v Northants

After a Sunday washout for most of the Royal London One-Day Cup, Surrey will hope the weather will be kinder at the Oval on Monday as they host Northamptonshire, who lost their opening game to Durham on Saturday.

Both sides failed to reach the knockout stages in last year’s competition having won only three and two games respectively, but will be targeting at least a quarter-final place this time around.

However, Surrey’s campaign started as their t20 one ended, in soggy fashion as rain prevented a ball being bowled at Leicester. With drier weather on Saturday, Northants were able to kickstart the competition against Durham, but they fell to a 54 run defeat.

There were some positive signs for Alex Wakely’s side, as they recovered from 37-4 to eventually be bowled out for 259 and have a balanced side that looks dangerous on paper, however they will know that in an eight game competition they can ill afford to lose their opening two games.

The last time the two side met in white ball cricket was the 2013 t20 final, memorably won by Northants at Edgbaston, but they have only played two list A games in the past six years, Surrey winning both games in the 2011 group stages, by three wickets and 12 runs respectively.

Key Men

Kumar Sangakkara brings a wealth of one-day experience into Surrey’s batting line-up and while his impact in the t20 Blast may have been limited, his ability to play long white ball innings could be more valuable in the longer form, allowing Surrey’s youngsters to play around him.

Ben Duckett is in the form of his life in the past few weeks, the 20-year-old having hit career bests in each of his last three innings in all three forms of the game, including a maiden list A fifty against Durham.

Team News

Northants stuck with their t20 side for Saturday’s opening tie, with Olly Stone replacing Graeme White as the only change. While the spinner could return at the Oval, Northants will likely stick with the same side, but could alter the batting line-up after the top order failure against Durham.

Surrey had the intention of resting Azhar Mahmood for their opening game at Leicestershire, but otherwise named a similar squad to the climax of the t20 competition, with the additions of Aneesh Kapil and Tim Linley.

Weather and conditions

After a sodden Friday night and Sunday across much of the country, the new week is set to offer some restbite, with London forecast to be dry, if cloudy, for Monday’s action.

Date: Monday July 27th

Time: 2:00pm

Venue: The Kia Oval

Umpires: Jeff Evans, Neil Mallender

Odds: Surrey 4/6, Northants 6/5

Royal London One Day Cup: Betting Preview

With the NatWest T20 Blast ready to go into the knockout stage it is time for the other one day competition to begin, as the county cricket fans and players get ready for a diet of 50 over cricket for a month in the Royal London One Day Cup.

This particular event has become the lesser of the three domestic competitions, but for the two sides who make it to Lord’s for the final it will become the main event.

From a betting point of view I prefer to stick with sides who don’t have a lot to play for in the Championship in this competition. First-class cricket reaches the nitty gritty stage towards the end of this tournament so anyone in contention for that might give their youngsters a run out in this, and save the main players for the four-day game.

The 18 counties are split into two groups. Group A consists of Derbyshire, Durham, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Northants, Somerset, Surrey, Worcestershire and Surrey. It is fair to say this is the weaker of the two, even though the defending champions Durham are in it. Somerset and Surrey have poor seasons to rectify in this tournament but I can’t ignore Worcestershire’s price.

Worcestershire have gone really well in the T20 and will host Hampshire in the quarter-final of that competition, and that form gives them plenty to build on in the 50 over competition. Experienced heads like Daryl Mitchell, Alex Gidman, Jack Shantry and Saeed Ajmal mix with a good core of youngsters who play an energetic, enterprising style of cricket that gets results despite their unfancied status. They look a big price from a group they must fancy their chances of qualifying from.

In the other group I like last year’s semi-finalists Kent. Kent have strolled to the top spot in the South Group of the T20 and they have done it in an entertaining way with a largely young side playing fearless cricket. They have a good bowling attack for one day cricket and a long enough batting line-up to be able to play their shots and that is a good combination.

Group B is very much the tougher group. Essex, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Sussex and Warwickshire are all excellent one day sides but some of them will be losing players to England’s ODI side towards the end of the competition and others have business to take care of in the Championship. Kent went well in this last year and with the platform of a confident T20 run to build from I expect them to go well again.

Bets

Worcestershire each way at 25/1 – Bet365

Kent each way at 20/1 – Coral