T20 BLAST PREVIEW: Stars of green and gold will don the famous Red Rose as Lancashire strive for more Blast success
Coach: Glen Chapple
Captain: Dane Vilas
Overseas: James Faulkner, Glenn Maxwell (both Australia)
Last season: Semi-finals
Lancashire were excellent for the majority of their 2018 campaign. Reaching Finals Day is no mean feat; chuck in the fact that Jos Buttler was available on just three occasions and made a grand total of just 28 runs, and it represents a fine team effort.
Glenn Maxwell is one of the world's top T20 players
Liam Livingstone: The England T20 international has given his county side an injury scare on the eve of the tournament, with the allrounder suffering a rib injury. However, when he returns to working order, he will form a crucial component of a side with the potential to go even further than last year’s run to the semi-finals. His part-time off-breaks are a mixture of streetwise and useful, while few on the circuit hit the ball harder than Livingstone. A stint with Rajasthan Royals – while not an on-field success – will have made the hard-hitting brute an even more impressive cricketer.
Glenn Maxwell: The Big Show. A total enigma on the international stage, there remains little doubting of his startling ability. Much like Livingstone, he offers an array of all-round talents; there are few better fielders on earth than the Australian, while he defines the modern 360-degree batsman. His off-spinners are more than serviceable. If Lancashire get good use of Maxwell, he will take them a good distance towards successive Finals Day appearances.
Saqib Mahmood: One of domestic cricket’s players of the season, Mahmood has been immensely impressive in both red-ball and white-ball cricket. Sharp and accurate, the England Lions man cannot be far from further international honours. A solid Blast campaign will surely push him closer. He did not play in last year’s T20 competition and will be eager to make up for lost time. Matt Parkinson is another who will fancy his chances of making an impact again – only Pat Brown took more than his haul of 25 in last year’s Blast.
In Maxwell and Livingstone, Lancashire possess two of T20 batting’s more dangerous cricketers. However, the Red Rose are by no means a two-man band. Contrary to popular expectation, Keaton Jennings has thrived in the shortest format; he averaged 59.75 in last year’s competition, while Alex Davies struck 534 runs in 2018’s tournament. Livingstone’s runs came at a ferocious strike-rate of 188.16. James Faulkner, who has struggled with the bat in recent times, remains an outstanding option as a finisher.
They look a very well-balanced side, with an excellent bowling attack and an array of swashbuckling batsmen. If there is a potential weakness, however, it comes in what is no longer there. Two allrounders have left Lancashire since last year’s Finals Day disappointment: Jordan Clark has moved down to Surrey, while Arron Lilley is now at Leicestershire. Respectively, the pair played featured in 13 and 15 of Lancashire’s 16 games in last year’s tournament. How they are replaced will be key.
Lancashire reached the semi-finals last year, but lost to eventual champions Worcestershire
Strong. Maxwell, Livingstone, Davies, Faulkner, Mahmood, Parkinson represents a pretty decent spine. Get them playing together on a regular basis an Finals Day is a very realistic possibility...
Strongest XI (with T20 Player Index ratings): Alex Davies (437), Liam Livingstone (86), Keaton Jennings (415), Glenn Maxwell (5), Dane Vilas (318), James Faulkner (78), Steven Croft (406), Saqib Mahmood (1348), Toby Lester (601), Matt Parkinson (300), Richard Gleeson (332)
Fixtures: Jul 19 – Leicestershire (a), Jul 21 – Durham (h), Jul 25 – Yorkshire (a), Jul 26 – Worcestershire (h), Jul 28 – Derbyshire (a), Aug 2 – Durham (a), Aug 3 – Notts (h), Aug 9 – Yorkshire (h), Aug 11 – Birmingham (a), Aug 14 – Northants (a), Aug 16 – Birmingham (h), Aug 25 – Worcestershire (a), Aug 26 – Derbyshire (h), Aug 30 – Leicestershire (h)