Lancashire are a side desperately looking to rekindle former glory in the One-Day Cup. For a club that dominated the format throughout the 90s, the Lightning are enduring a barren run that has left them feeling rather green.
And no, that’s not simply due to the fact that for the last two seasons they have sported a ghastly all-green kit for the Royal London One Day Cup – which has sadly returned for 2017. But rather it’s owing to the fact that they haven’t reached a Lord’s final since 2006.
This for the side that between 1989 and 1999 won no fewer than nine one-day trophies, is a disappointing run that new coach Glen Chapple is determined to rectify.
The new schedule for 2017, which sees the competition played in a block and the group stage condensed into the next three weeks, is designed to help counties place more focus on the One-Day Cup.
“I think it’s beneficial, certainly for us planning,” Chapple said.
“We can now look at the squad and who’s ready to play in the 50-over competition and we can target it more specifically than we have been able to in the past. We’re looking forward to it.
“We’ve struggled to have the right balance in recent years. We’ve had decent sides on paper but we’ve come unstuck at certain stages.”
Chapple was in the Lancashire squad back in 2006 when they were beaten in the final by Sussex. There’s a determination in the ranks to compete once again in this competition, a point underlined by wicketkeeper Alex Davies.
“The target is to win trophies as a squad,” Davies said pre-season.
“As a squad we sit down at the start of the season and set out targets out and we’re about winning trophies now. That excites us, it excites the fans. We are a massive club and we can only really reward that by winning trophies.
“I think in the past we’ve been chopping and changing between Championship, to one-day, to 20 overs whereas now you can really put some focus into it when it’s in a block and I think it will be good for the tournament.”
But turning around their recent fortunes will be difficult. Lancashire haven’t even progressed past the knockout stage since 2012.
It’s even more of a challenge for their opponents Leicestershire. You have to go back to 2008 for the last time they featured in the knockouts, back when it was the Friends Provident Trophy.
The wait for one-day silverware has been a long one for the Foxes, all the way back to their Benson & Hedges Cup success in 1985. They have enjoyed much more glory in the T20 competition, winning it three times.
It’s fair to say that neither of these sides will be fancied heading into the competition, but both will be determined to put on a better display in the One-Day Cup than they have in recent years.
The Lancashire side is a very difficult one to predict. But the hint is that Haseeb Hameed is set to play limited-overs cricket for the first time for Lancashire after Chapple confirmed he is in their plans. Hameed has a reputation, perhaps unfairly, as a defensive batsman. A List A debut will be a test of his ability to up the strike rate from the top of the order.
It also comes off the back of his poor start to the County Championship season, with two ducks and a score of seven in his last three innings.
Mark Pettini is a vastly experienced campaigner and was one of the stars of Leicestershire’s disappointing 2016 One-Day Cup campaign. No Foxes batsman reached three figures, but Pettini’s 92 was the closest they came. The 33-year-old has 180 List A matches under his belt and his experience and class make him a key component in this Leicestershire side.
Lancashire are still without Steven Croft through injury. The Lightning captain hasn’t missed a competitive one-day match since sitting out the 2006 Lord’s final, that’s 116 consecutive List A matches he’s played in to go with his 131 consecutive T20 appearances.
His experience can be replaced by James Anderson, if he’s included, as the England seamer is available for the first three One-Day Cup matches. Kyle Jarvis misses out after injuring his ankle against Somerset. Karl Brown and Arron Lilley are something of one-day specialists and are expected to make their first appearance of the season.
Lancashire Squad: Liam Livingstone (c), James Anderson, Tom Bailey, Karl Brown, Jordan Clark, Alex Davies (wk), Haseeb Hameed, Simon Kerrigan, Ryan McLaren, Danny Lamb, Arron Lilley, Stephen Parry, Luke Procter, Dane Vilas
Leicestershire are without some key names in Clint McKay, Ben Raine and Colin Ackermann, but Gavin Griffiths has recovered from injury in time to face his former side. Spinner Callum Parkinson is included – his twin brother Matt plays for Lancashire.
Leicestershire Squad: Ned Eckersley (c), Aadil Ali, Zak Chappell, Mark Cosgrove, Cameron Delport, Neil Dexter, Gavin Griffiths, Lewis Hill, Dieter Klein, Callum Parkinson, Mark Pettini, Rob Sayer, James Sykes, Tom Wells
Weather and Conditions
It’s set to be a cloudy day at Old Trafford but there’s no rain forecast. The pitch for the Championship game last week offered plenty of early movement for the seamers and little for the spinners. Lancashire like to use their spin in one-day cricket, so don’t be surprised to see a dry surface for this one.
Date: 28th April 2017
Ground: Emirates Old Trafford
Umpires: Paul Baldwin & Peter Hartley
Odds (SkyBet): Lancashire 8/13, Leicestershire 5/4