Vitality County Championship Division One Match Preview: Lancashire v Kent

Vitality County Championship Division One Match Preview: Lancashire v Kent

Keaton Jennings

The two bottom clubs meet at Old Trafford

This week’s clash between Lancashire and Kent is understandably being badged as a relegation clash because the home side on 24 points and the visitors on 26 prop up the top division table. They have each played three matches, losing one and drawing two. Lancashire lost by an innings to Essex and Kent also suffered an innings defeat, to Surrey. To be fair however, Lancashire and Kent have played one fewer match than the rest and so have had fewer opportunities to rack up bonus points. A win by either side this week will propel them well up the table.

For Lancashire, too many players have so far failed to deliver this season. There have only been four scores of 50 or over, with Keaton Jennings the sole centurion. With the ball, Will Williams and overseas signing Nathan Lyon have taken 31 of the 47 wickets to fall. As fine a bowler as Tom Bailey is, he has toiled for more than 60 overs for just two wickets.

Kent’s Head Coach, Matt Walker, has highlighted the team’s failure to post big first innings scores as a major weakness. 244 against Surrey and 284 against Somerset were both below par totals. Even less impressive are the bowling statistics, with only pre-season signing George Garrett averaging less than 50 runs per wicket.

Last season, Lancashire’s problem was that they drew too many matches (10 out of 14), Kent’s that they lost too many (seven out of 14). Unless Lancashire’s bowlers and Kent’s batters start to perform, those issues may be replicated this year. But if (and it’s a big if) we get four fine days, Lancashire look to have the stronger squad and are more likely to achieve a much needed win.

Key players:

Nathan Lyon was originally lined up to play a full season with Lancashire; but then Cricket Australia stepped in to annoy both the county and the player by restricting him to just seven matches. It’s not entirely clear whether the match against Surrey, where Lyon was out first ball, bowled two overs and fielded for another six will count against his quota. In any event, the off-spinner will be anxious to make as big a contribution as possible in the games he is allowed to play. Nor would it be surprising if the groundsman were to give him just a tiny bit of help in this match.

Daniel Bell-Drummond carries a double burden for Kent as both captain and top batter. So far, he has scored a century and two fifties in six knocks. The outcome of Kent’s season may depend on whether he can maintain this weight of run-scoring whilst getting the best out of his teammates. This match will provide a good test.

Team News:

Neither team is likely to make too many changes to those that played last week. Kent have signed Australian pace bowler Charlie Stobo but he won’t be available until 20 May and South African all-rounder Beyers Swanepoel’s deal will run from 7 May until the end of the season.

There is a slow change of generations in both Clubs. Joe Denly makes the squad for Kent but nephew Jaydn misses out; and it is just too soon for the next generation of Flintoffs to appear for Lancashire. Andrew Flintoff’s two sons, Corey and Rocky, played for the Lancashire second team last week and 16 year old Rocky scored what was, by all reports, a stunning century. Not this week, but watch out for him soon.

Lancashire squad: Keaton Jennings (c), Tom Bailey, George Balderson, George Bell, Jack Blatherwick, Josh Bohannon, Tom Bruce, Tom Hartley, Matthew Hurst, George Lavelle, Nathan Lyon, Luke Wells, Will Williams

Kent squad: Daniel Bell-Drummond (c), Wes Agar, Ben Compton, Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Joey Evison, Harry Finch, George Garrett, Nathan Gilchrist, Jack Leaning, Marcus O’Riordan, Matt Parkinson, Hamidullah Quadri, Grant Stewart

Weather and Conditions

The old adage is that if, looking out from Old Trafford, you can see the Derbyshire hills, it’s about to rain; and if you can’t see them, it’s already raining. That may be about right for Friday when heavy showers are forecast. But for the rest of the game, the forecast is much better. As for the pitch – maybe that little bit of spin to help Mr Lyon.

Date: 3-6 May 2024

Time: 11:00

Ground: Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester


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