T20 cricket returns to the 3aaa County Ground on Friday night as the Derbyshire Falcons play their first game in the newly-named Vitality T20 Blast this season. They welcome Lancashire Lightning, who will be playing their second game in the competition after losing to Worcestershire Rapids on Thursday.
Derbyshire fell agonisingly close to finally reaching Finals Day last year, losing out to a Shahid Afridi-inspired Hampshire in the quarter finals, and will want to go at least one stage further this year. 2015 champions Lancashire will be looking for a big improvement on last season, having finished seventh in the table and failing to qualify for the quarter finals.
Derbyshire fans may not recognise the side on Friday though with potentially seven debutants in this format of the game named in the squad, which will once again be presided over by specialist T20 coaches John Wright and Dominic Cork. The arrival of T20 cricket also means a change of captain for the Falcons, with Billy Godleman returning to the ranks and Ireland captain Gary Wilson taking over the reigns. In other news, Kim Barnett stepped down from his role as Cricket Advisor to the club earlier in the week. We will have to wait and see if this has an affect on the performances, although his day to day involvement with the players was minimal.
Lancashire on the other hand have a comfy feel to their side, with a lot of familiar faces for their fans to see. Australian James Faulkner returns as one of their overseas players, who has been very successful at the club before and Liam Livingstone retains the captaincy for the Lightning. They will be hoping that consistency is the road to success as they set off to better last season’s showing in the group stages.
The game should be a good even contest and probably too close to call, however with home advantage and a burning desire to finally reach Finals Day Derbyshire may be narrow favourites.
It is hard to look past last Season’s T20 Blast MVP for Derbyshire’s key man, but then it is hard to look past him in any form of cricket, such is Wayne Madsen’s level of performance for the club. Last season in the Blast he scored 526 runs at an average of nearly 48, setting up some imposing totals and keeping a cool head while chasing. He also chipped in with 13 wickets, often opening the bowling and getting the Falcons off to a good start with both bat and ball. If that wasn’t enough he is also in possession of an exceptional pair of hands and will be found at long on or long off pouching catches as the match progresses. Derbyshire will be hoping Madsen can repeat this form this match and across the Blast this season.
Liam Livingstone will feel at home captaining a side at the 3aaa County Ground on Friday night after captaining the England Lions there in two fixtures already this season. It is no surprise that Livingstone has received international recognition, he is a beautiful batsman to watch who scores freely and adds impetus to an innings effortlessly. He is also a fine bowler, and his spin will prove to be vital as spin bowling becomes more and more important in the shortest format of the game as the bowlers look to wrestle back the initiative from the batsmen. Lancashire will hope that Livingstone will be able to perform to his full ability and that the captaincy does not weigh upon him and his performances. When he does perform well, Lancashire are a very difficult side to beat.
Derbyshire have named a 14-man squad and could hand debuts to up to five players on Friday night. A further two could make their T20 debut for the club as well, with Dal, Ferguson, McKiernan, MacLeod, Rampaul, Riaz and Sharif all donning the T20 kit for the club for the first time. Dal and McKiernan whose signing was announced on Thursday have impressed in the second team, while pacemen Riaz and Ferguson are the club’s overseas players for the Blast this season. Also brought in especially for the blast has been Macleod from Scotland and Rampaul and Sharif who have represented the club in other formats so far, make up the seven potential debutants. All in all it could be a very different side to the one that fell at the quarter-final stage last season.
Derbyshire Falcons squad: Gary Wilson (c), Matt Critchley, Anuj Dal, Lockie Ferguson, Alex Hughes, Matt McKiernan, Calum MacLeod, Wayne Madsen, Ravi Rampaul, Wahab Riaz, Safyaan Sharif, Ben Slater, Daryn Smit (wk), Hardus Viljoen
There are unlikely to be many changes to the 14-man squad Lancashire named for the visit of the Rapids, with skipper Liam Livingstone leading a strong Lancashire side, boosted by the arrival of Australian overseas star James Faulkner. With Livingstone, Croft and Parry in the squad they will be hoping for a dry and turning pitch as their slow bowlers look to stifle the Falcons’ batsmen. However if the pitch offers something for the seamers then with Mennie and Onions, they will be equally formidable.
Lancashire Lightning squad: TBA
Weather and Conditions
The weather that has left the ground dry and parched looks set to continue tomorrow night with sunshine forecast throughout the game and temperatures hitting the dizzy heights of 28 degrees, so make sure you remember to drink plenty and put on your sun cream. The 3aaa County Ground has not been short of runs so far this season, with true pacey wickets having been prepared, Derbyshire will be hoping for more of this with the pace bowlers at their disposal. However with Derby having not seen a drop of rain in what feels like a lifetime, the pitch will be dry and may well offer a fair amount of turn to both sets of spinners.
Date: 6th July 2018
Ground: 3aaa County Ground, Derby
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire Falcons 11/10 Lancashire Lightening 8/11