Buy TicketsBuy Your Tickets here
Lancashire finished their NatWest T20 season on a high, winning a low-scoring contest against Birmingham Bears by the huge margin of 30 runs thanks to an important partnership between Man of the Match Tom Moores and Jordan Clark that was superbly backed up by an outstanding bowling performance.
The result saw Lancashire finish in fifth place and one point away from qualifying for the quarter-finals while defeat also ended the Bears' T20 hopes.
Lancashire made one change to the side that won by four runs at Durham, with Tom Smith returning for his third T20 game of the season.
The game was also Stephen Parry’s 100th T20 game for the Lightning, and he became only the second Lancashire player to reach the landmark behind Steven Croft.
On a slow Emirates Old Trafford wicket Lancashire struggled to get going with only Alviro Petersen of the top order batsmen really getting to grip with the surface in making 27 off 33 balls.
Petersen hit consecutive deliveries off Oliver Hannon-Dalby for four in the second over but boundaries were in scarce supply with only four struck in the first fourteen overs.
When Petersen departed in that same fourteenth over, after lofting Josh Poysden to Ian Bell at cover, the Lightning were only 59-5 and in a spot of trouble.
By then Smith had gone lbw for 6 to Rikki Clarke, Karl Brown pulled Recordo Gordon to Laurie Evans at deep mid-wicket for 5, Liam Livingstone was bowled for 10 attempting to pull Jeetan Patel and Croft had been bowled for 2 by a great spinning delivery from Josh Poysden.
Moores and Clark then fashioned a great recovery, combining to add 65 for the sixth wicket from the remaining 39 deliveries to set a new T20 record 6th wicket partnership for the Lightning against Birmingham.
Moores hit the first ball after Croft’s dismissal for four-the first boundary in ten overs-to set the tone but the partnership really came to life in the 18th over when 18 runs were taken off Rikki Clarke with Jordan Clark hitting the Bears’ all-rounder for two fours and a straight six.
Moores hit a four off Patel in the 19th over and then struck Gordon for a straight six in the 20th over as Lancashire ended their innings on 124-5 with 40 runs flowing from the final 16 balls, and their partnership proved to be vital in a game where, for most of the time, runs were at a premium.
Clark ended on 31 not out from 18 balls while Moores’ 39 off 32 was a T20 best.
Lancashire opened their reply with Parry bowling from the Pavilion End conceding just four runs and two overs later Arron Lilley followed that example by only allowed two runs as the Bears top order batsmen found the conditions just as hard as their Lancashire counterparts had done earlier.
Saqib Mahmood struck with his first ball, surprising Bell with a delivery that bounced more than he expected, Moores collecting the resultant edge to leave the visitors on 18-1 at the start of the 4th over.
William Porterfield got in a muddle with Sam Hain, running after a mis-field but being beaten by Parry’s throw to wicketkeeper Moores to depart for 5 with the score 33-2 after 5 overs.
Mahmood then bowled an outstanding maiden over to complete the six over powerplay and put Lancashire right back in the game.
Hain and Matthew Wade calmly added 28 runs inside seven overs before Hain bottom edged a Livingstone delivery that was well caught by Moores, the opener having made 28 off 38 balls.
When Croft, who took 1-12 from his 4 overs, bowled Wade for 16 with a sharply turning delivery in the next over, Birmingham on 63-4 required a further 62 off 47 balls.
Two wickets in two balls by Arron Lilley (2-21) midway through the 17th over turned the game decisively Lancashire’s way.
Smith produced a flying leap to pull off an outstanding catch at short fine leg to dismiss Laurie Evans for 7 after the batsman had flicked Lilley over his shoulder.
Livingstone followed that with an amazing running catch just inside the boundary after Rikki Clarke had hoisted Lilley’s next delivery high to mid-wicket to leave Birmingham deep in trouble at 80-6 after 16.4 overs.
It was another Livingstone catch, this time an easier affair running in from deep cover, that accounted for Ateeq Javid for 4 to give Mahmood his second wicket and the Bears had no way back from 85-7 after 18 overs.
Mahmood took a third wicket in the final over to finish with 3-12, Gordon caught by Parry for 4, as Birmingham finished on 94-8, their lowest ever T20 score against Lancashire and the fifth-lowest ever against the Lightning in this competition.
It left Lancashire winners by a huge 30-run margin in what had been a really low-scoring contest, but results elsewhere had by then ended the Lightning’s defence of their NatWest T20 crown.
Steven Croft was pleased with the win but admitted to frustration that Lancashire had failed to reach the knock out stages of this season’s competition.
“It was a really good win, and that’s two back-to-back wins and some great performances tonight,” he said.
“It was a great partnership by Clarky and Moorsey at the end of our innings, and I thought Saqib was brilliant with the ball. To get 3-12 on that wicket when I thought spin would be our strong suit was a great effort.
“It was a great team effort. We knew it wasn’t a fast pitch and we read it right, but didn’t play accordingly. Birmingham bowled quite well but we could have got twenty or more runs in that period and then kicked on.
“We finished really strongly and then defended the runs we had really well.
“The last two games and the midweek game, we’ve really turned it on and we knew we had to do something different.
“It’s made it a very frustrating last three games (as well). That’s the standard we need to be at. We’ve been really slow getting out of the blocks in the first few games in this competition.
“It makes it really disappointing after our last couple of performances to have finished fifth.
“There’s a few games we could have won, they were in our hands.
“We’ve got the talent, as we proved last year, but not getting back-to-back wins is not going to help you get on a roll. We started slowly last year and then picked up. We didn’t get that momentum this year.
“It’s been a disappointing campaign, but nice to finish with two wins.
Croft is now looking ahead to the remaining Royal London Cup matches.
“There’s a Lord’s final at stake,” he said. “Another cup to win, and one we are still alive in, so going into it with three white ball wins under our belt in the last week and a half will help us. We need to win both games, so it will be a big two days for us.”
This game was Stephen Parry’s one hundredth T20 game for Lancashire, and Croft added with a grin: “he told us all about it before the game!”
Croft was full of praise for the left arm spinner, praising his consistency saying: “You presume sometimes he’s going to be there, bowl tidy like he usually does.
“It was the same tonight, he’s still one of the best spinners in England and he’s brilliant to have in your side.
“By his own high standards he’s probably started a little bit slowly this year, like most of us, but he’s finished off really well and he can’t wait for the next two games either.”