Lancashire have delivered a gutsy riposte to two poor home defeats and their victory over Birmingham Bears at Old Trafford leaves them close to qualifying for the quarter-finals.
It was a comprehensive win, by 37 runs, bowling out a strong Bears batting lineup and was one that demonstrated not only the character but the skill of the side.
It was also Lancashire’s fourth game in seven days. The first two were disappointing losses at home to Leicestershire and Durham – both games they were set to win easily.
Those defeats left their knockout chances limping somewhat but the response, beating Yorkshire at Headingley and then crushing the Bears, has the 2015 champions believing this could be their year again.
“The intent we showed in the past two games compared with the Durham, I think you could say was a lesson learned,” said leg-spinner Matt Parkinson, who claimed 3-23 against Birmingham.
“Having had that experience, we sat down as a team and spoke about how we want to play our cricket. The response at Headingley and tonight was great.
“We have got quite a young side, a new side and I think you can see that in the field. We are getting to know each other.
“We will have good days and bad days. We are learning and fingers crossed over the next five years we can become a dominant force in one-day cricket again.”
Parkinson was instrumental in what turned out to be a comfortable win. Batting first on what was a used wicket, Karl Brown’s quick-fire half-century at the top of the order and Jordan Clark’s late firepower propelled the Lightning to what looked to be a really strong total of 185-5.
So it proved. Three wickets inside the powerplay damaged Birmingham hopes before Parkinson ripped the heart out of them.
He took three wickets in four balls – and was only denied a hattrick when his lbw appeal against Grant Elliot was turned down.
“I didn’t think the hat-trick ball was out, but Dane seemed convinced so I went with him!” Parkinson admitted.
The damage was done and Birmingham lost a flurry of late wickets to be bowled out for 148 with one ball of the innings remaining.
In all likelihood, Lancashire need one point from their remaining two fixtures to guarantee qualification, though their favourable net run rate may mean they already have enough.
But two wins will be required to have any chance of a home quarter-final, something Parkinson admits they’d like to do, but doesn’t believe it’s essential.
“We want to win our last two games. It would be nice to have a home quarter, if we didn’t manage to do that and we got an away quarter, the lads are backing themselves to beat every other county away from home.”
The loss sees Birmingham, last seasons’ runners-up, slip to 6th in the North Group table and the Bears know that two wins are needed to have any chance of progression.
They face Lancashire again at Edgbaston before a derby clash with Worcestershire to round off the group stage. It’s a challenge head coach Jim Troughton is relishing.
“We look forward to playing these guys at our place for a bit of revenge and then I wouldn’t mind playing Worcester to play that to get through,” Troughton said. “It would be pleasing to do that.
“We just weren’t good enough on the day. That spell from Parkinson pretty much killed us getting three quick wickets there and ripping the middle order out.”