Lancashire’s survival hopes are not in their own hands and require other results to go heavily in their favour if they are to be playing Division One cricket next season.
They travel to Hampshire trailing sixth-placed Nottinghamshire by 19 points and know that even a 24-point victory could see them relegated. Nottinghamshire require five points to guarantee safety and Yorkshire need just two.
Lancashire’s record this season doesn’t bode well: they are yet to take five batting points from a match and have failed to take any batting points on six occasions. It has been a lack of runs that has let them down and, in the last week of September, it will not be any easier to score. But score they must if they want to survive.
Hampshire can rest easy having secured Division One status at Headingley last week. This is the first time in their current Division One stint that they have not entered the final match embroiled in a relegation dogfight.
That is the sort of model those on the south coast would wish to replicate moving forwards, although without Kyle Abbott’s 32 wickets in the last five matches they may well have been scrapping for safety alongside Lancashire.
Jimmy Adams turned 38 on Sunday and will play his 233rd and final first-class match this week before he retires. The opener has more than 14,000 runs in his 16-year career; he’s been a loyal, classy servant for Hampshire. He has passed 50 only twice in the Championship this season — both at home — converting to a century against Yorkshire. Alastair Cook received the fairy tale farewell at The Oval earlier this month, and how Adams would love to have the same.
Desperate times call for captains to stand up and lead from the front. James Vince did it to save Hampshire at the end of last season and Lancashire will need Liam Livingstone to try and do that this week. At number four, he strengthens the batting despite not yet passing 48 in first-class cricket this season. There would be no better moment for him to remind everyone of how good he can be.
Tom Alsop misses out having injured his left thumb keeping at Yorkshire, so Lewis McManus will play his first Championship game since June.
Hampshire squad: James Vince (c), Lewis McManus (wk), Kyle Abbott, Jimmy Adams, Gareth Berg, Liam Dawson, Aneurin Donald, Fidel Edwards, Ian Holland, Sam Northeast, Oliver Soames, Ryan Stevenson, Joe Weatherley
Lancashire have no new injury concerns ahead of the trip, with Matt Parkinson expected to feature after missing two of the last three matches. Keaton Jennings is available after being released to play by England.
Lancashire squad: TBC
Weather and conditions
It’s set to be a dry, sunny week on the south coast but temperatures across the first two days will only reach the mid teens. Head groundsman Karl McDermott will be preparing his final pitch at The Ageas Bowl before moving to Lord’s next season, and Lancashire will want the best wicket possible to claim batting bonus points.
Date: 24th-27th September 2018
Ground: The Ageas Bowl
Odds (SkyBet): Hampshire 4/6, Lancashire 6/5