Lancashire host three-time T20 champions Leicestershire in somewhat unfamiliar surroundings as the Blast rolls in to Liverpool this afternoon.
Old Trafford’s decision to host the Radiohead concert, relocated from the Manchester Arena last week, meant that their first T20 home game had to be moved – and Aigburth, Liverpool, got the nod.
It’s an opportunity to showcase T20 cricket around more of the county, drawing in extra fans who may otherwise not be able to attend matches at Old Trafford. It’s also something that is likely to happen more regularly when the new city-based T20 competition launches in 2020.
2015 champions Lancashire will make the short trip up the M62 full of confidence, after a thumping 52-run win over last year’s finalists Durham at Chester-le-Street on Friday night.
Jos Buttler’s 39-ball 59 helped the Lightning post a strong total of 192-6 which, ultimately, proved too much for the Jets to chase down. Three wickets from Jordan Clark helped Lancashire to the win that puts them top of the fledgling North Group table.
Leicestershire meanwhile were the only side in the North Group not to feature on the opening day of the competition, and will be itching to get cracking at the format that they have excelled in since its inception in 2003.
The Foxes have more titles to their name than any other side but haven’t reached Finals Day since 2011 – a run that they will be keen to end in 2017.
They will boast firepower with the addition of the explosive New Zealand keeper-batsman Luke Ronchi as overseas star, and will hope he can prove the spark to reverse their recent T20 dip.
If Ronchi, along with Lancashire’s powerful ball-strikers, including Jos Buttler and Jordan Clark, get firing on Sunday Liverpool will be in for a T20 treat.
Lancashire don’t get the benefit of his services too often, due to his England commitments, but Jos Buttler proved how valuable he is with his performance on Friday. Full of lusty blows, reverse scoops and dabs, Buttler demonstrated he is the ultimate 360° T20 batsman. His omission from England’s Test plans mean he will be available for the whole of the group stage for Lancashire and could be the difference maker in seeing the Lightning through to the knockout phase.
Leicestershire’s other overseas player for 2017 is experienced Australian Clint McKay. He will skipper the T20 outfit and is integral to everything the Foxes do, especially his value with the ball. The 34-year-old seamer has 65 white-ball caps for Australia to his name and Leicestershire will rely on his vast talent and experience.
Seamer Saqib Mahmood picked up a side injury in the win over Durham and has been replaced in the squad by Danny Lamb. That’s the only change to Friday’s squad.
Lancashire Lightning: Steven Croft (C), Tom Bailey, Jos Buttler (W), Karl Brown, Jordan Clark, Kyle Jarvis, Rob Jones, Danny Lamb, Arron Lilley, Liam Livingstone, Ryan McLaren, Matthew Parkinson, Stephen Parry, Dane Vilas
Luke Ronchi could make his debut for the Foxes today. Ben Raine and Zak Chappell are unavailable through injury and Neil Dexter misses out due to a personal issue.
Leicestershire Foxes: Clint McKay (c), Aadil Ali, Colin Ackermann, Mark Cosgrove, Cameron Delport, Ned Eckersley, Gavin Griffiths, Lewis Hill, Dieter Klein, Callum Parkinson, Mathew Pillans, Luke Ronchi, Rob Sayer, Tom Wells
Weather and Conditions
All set for a glorious afternoon in Liverpool with sun and temperatures of around 20°. So little county cricket is played at Aigburth it’s difficult to predict conditions but the One-Day Cup match there against Northants was a high-scoring encounter.
Date: July 9th
Ground: Aigburth, Liverpool
Umpires: Richard Illingworth & Graham Lloyd
Odds (Bet365): Lancashire 4/7, Leicestershire 11/8