In Saturday’s only Natwest T20 Blast fixture, Derbyshire have a tough beat as they travel to Old Trafford to face the reigning champions.
Derbyshire have a poor T20 history, although we saw some decent cricket last season. It’s probably fair to say that the performances were better than the results suggested. Nevertheless, they have lost four of the last five games they played against the Red Rose county.
Lancashire, on the other hand, have a pretty decent T20 history. They’ve visited Finals day a couple of times and have last year’s trophy in their cabinet.
Last season, however, they could boast the services of Jimmy Faulkner who was a central part of their campaign. He won’t be with them this year and neither will Ashwell Prince, while Jos Buttler will also miss portions of the tournament
Derbyshire have a much changed side from that of last year and now boast a trio of Kiwis in James Neesham, Neil Broom and Hamish Rutherford. The Falcons have plenty of quality with the bat, particularly in captain Wes Durston and the likes of Wayne Madsen and Chesney Hughes.
The bowling isn’t as strong, but Shiv Thakor is having an excellent season and Ben Cotton bowled 96 balls last year without conceding a single maximum.
Despite Derbyshire’s new found strengths, it’s hard not to see Lancashire as the favourites in this meeting of top versus bottom, but Derbyshire have been known to cause upsets on occasion.
They beat Lancashire at Derby last season and put on a decent performance at Old Trafford. Also, this is T20 – you never know what can happen.
Lancashire’s captain Steven Croft will be on a mission to take his side to the honour of becoming the only side to successfully defend a T20 trophy, and he will know that he needs to be at his best.
Incredibly capable with the bat, Croft was the centre of Lancashire’s innings against Derbyshire at Old Trafford last season, making an unbeaten 94. He’ll be looking to punish the Falcons bowlers again.
Always the centre of the T20 side, Wes Durston showed himself a more than able captain last year. A powerful batter who can turn hand to some quality spin as well, as a veteran campaigner for the Falcons, Durston is also a good leader for the younger men.
Whatever overseas players bring to the side, it won’t hold a candle that comes from Durston’s commitment.
Ashley Giles has named a 14-man squad for the fixture but Lancashire’s Kiwi, and former Derbyshire man, Martin Guptill is not available due to IPL commitments. Jos Buttler is also unavailable but Tom Smith returns after being out for some time with a back injury.
Lancashire squad: Steven Croft (captain), Karl Brown, Alex Davies (wicket-keeper), Jordan Clark, George Edwards, Gavin Griffiths, Kyle Jarvis, Arron Lilley, Liam Livingstone, Stephen Parry, Alviro Petersen, Luke Procter, Tom Smith, Neil Wagner
New Zealand international Jimmy Neesham, who arrived in Derby last Saturday, is set to make his debut for Derbyshire. The 25-year-old made 65 off 41 for the Second XI earlier this week.
Derbyshire squad: Wes Durston (Captain), Neil Broom, Andt Carter, Ben Cotton, Matt Critchley, Scott Elstone, Alex Hughes, Chesney Hughes, Wayne Madsen, Jimmy Neesham, Tom Poynton (wicket-keeper), Hamish Rutherford
Weather and conditions
The weather forecast varies from cloudy and chilly all day to rain, rain and more rain. Here’s hoping we get some action.
Date: Saturday 21st May 2016
Ground: Emirates Old Trafford
Umpires: Russell Evans & Richard Kettleborough
Odds (SkyBet): Lancashire 4/7, Derbyshire 11/8