It might only be mid-May but it’s time to crack out your deckchairs for a trip to the seaside, as Blackpool plays host to Lancashire and Derbyshire.
Last years trip to Stanley Park, against Nottinghamshire, was abandoned due to the weather and the locals will be hopeful that the forecasts are wrong about the first rain for weeks on the Fylde Coast appearing on Friday.
If the weather Gods play ball it could be a fascinating encounter, with Lancashire believing they need to win all of their remaining games in order to reach the knockout phase.
Three defeats from their first three games left Lancashire swimming against the tide, in their bid to make the knockouts for the first time since 2012. But back-to-back victories against Warwickshire and Worcestershire have dragged them back into the mix.
The Lightning are just a point behind Derbyshire in the North Group table, with the Falcons harbouring their own hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.
Derbyshire came through to snatch an impressive win against Warwickshire on Wednesday, a result that has captain Billy Godleman believing his side are making progress in 50-over cricket.
“I said to guys in the changing room that for the last 24 months we’ve come off the field 90 per cent or more of the time having lost a tight game like that against a big county,” he said.
“But this time we won that game and found a way to get over the line. It doesn’t mean we are going to do it all of the time but we now have another layer of confidence that when we get into that situation we will have even more chance of executing our skills and bringing the game home.
“Now we have three games left and it’s very important for us a group to make sure the focus is on the next game and if we play that to the best of our ability then hopefully the results will look after themselves.”
Lancashire have had a few star performers in their successive wins, with centuries for Steven Croft and Dane Vilas, as well as good all-round displays from Jordan Clark. But the work from Karl Brown at the top of the order should not be overlooked. His 63 from 77 balls against Worcestershire set the platform for their impressive total, but Brown will be frustrated to have made starts but not kicked on.
His scores of 34, 58, 37 and 63 have helped his side get off to good starts, but they would love him to continue and post a significant total.
Its been a similar story for Derbyshire opener Ben Slater, who will be frustrated that his good form hasn’t seen him produce a century from his four innings so far. He too has consistently made starts, with scores of 72 and 82 the highest he has been able to reach so far.
Slater will hope that Friday’s seaside showdown will be the moment he makes a really big score.
Ryan McLaren returns to the Lancashire squad after missing the two victories with a groin injury. The South African will find it hard to return to the side though, as it will surely be very difficult for Head Coach Glen Chapple to change a winning team.
Lancashire Squad: Steven Croft (c), James Anderson, Karl Brown, Jordan Clark, Alex Davies (wk), Haseeb Hameed, Kyle Jarvis, Simon Kerrigan, Arron Lilley, Liam Livingstone, Ryan McLaren, Stephen Parry, Tom Bailey and Dane Vilas
Charlie Macdonell is the only man added to the squad that clinched victory against Warwickshire, while Gary Wilson remains unavailable due to international commitments with Ireland.
Derbyshire Squad: Billy Godleman (c), Ben Cotton, Matt Critchley, Alex Hughes, Charlie Macdonell, Wayne Madsen, Jeevan Mendis, Tom Milnes, Tony Palladino, Luis Reece, Ben Slater, Daryn Smit, Shiv Thakor, Hardus Viljoen
Weather and Conditions
As mentioned, it will be enormously frustrating to Blackpool Cricket Club that the rain is set to arrive on their big day. This game could be seriously affected by the weather. The pitch at Blackpool can be tough to bat on, with little bounce or carry.
Date: 12th May 2017
Ground: Blackpool Cricket Club
Umpires: Steve Garratt, Steve O’Shaughnessy
Odds (SkyBet): Lancashire 4/6, Derbyshire 6/5