Three defeats from the first three games is certainly not the ideal way to start your T20 Blast campaign, but that’s the way things have gone for Worcestershire thus far.
The winless Rapids seek to end that run when they welcome Lancashire on Friday night, with the 2015 champions seeming like a daunting proposition for the struggling Midlands outfit.
Worcestershire will have been bitterly disappointed in their home defeat against Derbyshire on Wednesday – a side that Lancashire had beaten fairly comfortably three days earlier.
Billy Godleman’s 42-ball 70, backed up by Wayne Madsen ensured that the Rapids’ 186-5 wasn’t nearly enough, and condemned them to a third successive loss.
Joe Leach’s side sit seventh in the North Group table, above Nottinghamshire, who’ve played a game fewer, and Durham who began with a points deduction. They will be comforted, though, by the length of the group stage. There is still another 11 games to play before the knockout phase.
Lancashire’s position in the table is much healthier. The Lightning sit third with two wins, a defeat and a tie from their first four matches.
Jos Buttler guided them to their successful chase against Derbyshire, playing a controlling hand as they chased down 153 at Old Trafford.
Speaking of hands, Buttler grabbed headlines in this fixture last season when he blasted 57 from 22 balls despite suffering a broken left thumb while keeping in this first innings.
He is looking forward to returning to the scene of that great effort, and believes Lancashire should be full of confidence.
“Luckily it was my top hand which I don’t tend to use very much!” Buttler said.
“It was probably a 40-yard boundary on one side so I was pretty determined to get out there. It was a high-scoring game. With adrenaline you find a way to get through.
“It’s a ground I like playing at. It’s one of the great grounds in English cricket I think, and I look forward to Friday night and being back there.
“They are a very good team. They have a lot of guys who know their game very well. They’re an impressive side, but so are we. We’ll focus on ourselves and go there and prepare well.”
“It was a high-scoring game and a fun innings."
Some of these shots from @josbuttler were 👌 last year.
— Lancashire Lightning (@LancsCCC) July 20, 2017
After two disappointing innings to begin the campaign, Worcestershire opener Joe Clarke found his form in that Derbyshire defeat with a blistering 42 from just 18 balls. The 21-year-old has just one T20 half-century in his 16 innings in the format and will want to improve on his average of 19.86.
Lancashire’s opener Karl Brown has also been finding his feet in this season’s Blast, having not been able to break into the Championship side this campaign. A 61 against Yorkshire last Friday got Lancashire off to a flying start, and he played a similar role with 30 from 20 balls against Derbyshire. Alongside Liam Livingstone, Brown has been exploiting the powerplay well and will want to take advantage of a small ground at New Road.
Worcestershire have named the same 13-man squad that suffered that defeat to Derbyshire.
Worcestershire Squad: Joe Leach (c), Ed Barnard, Patrick Brown, Joe Clarke, Ben Cox (wk), Brett D’Oliveira, John Hastings, Alex Hepburn, Daryl Mitchell, George Rhodes, Mitchell Santner, Jack Shantry, Ross Whiteley
Glen Chapple has also named an unchanged Lancashire squad, with Matt Parkinson’s impressive debut last week giving the coach a headache in the bowling selection.
Lancashire Squad: Steven Croft (c), Tom Bailey, Jos Buttler (wk), Karl Brown, Jordan Clark, Kyle Jarvis, Rob Jones, Junaid Khan, Danny Lamb, Arron Lilley, Liam Livingstone, Ryan McLaren, Matthew Parkinson, Stephen Parry, Dane Vilas
Weather and Conditions
This match could well be affected by the weather, with rain forecast for almost all of the game. New Road is a small ground with a good batting pitch and this could be a high-scoring game, if played.
Date: July 21st 2017
Ground: New Road, Worcester
Umpires: Russell Evans & Tom Lungley
Odds (SkyBet): Worcestershire 6/5, Lancashire 4/6