Lancashire comprehensively downed the Glamorgan Dragons by eight wickets at Colwyn Bay today, clinching the win with 16 balls to spare.
Two youthful sides with eyes on bigger prizes went head to head in North Wales, and the Lightning rarely looked like being turned over.
That was despite a rally by the home side, who did well to post 211-9, after a disastrous start had reduced them to 29-5 in the tenth over of the match after Paul Horton had won the toss and elected to bowl.
Tom Smith, who later hit a fine run-a-ball 61, and Sajid Mahmood blew away the Welsh side’s top order with the new ball, Smith claiming three wickets and Mahmood two.
But a career best 79 off 93 balls from Ben Wright, a late 53 not out off 44 from Robert Croft and 38 off 46 from captain and wicketkeeper Mark Wallace were all crucial to the home side’s recovery.
Smith bowled Mark Cosgrove, had Tom Maynard lbw and forced David Brown to hole out to Procter at deep mid wicket, while Mahmood bowled Will Bragg and trapped Jim Allenby lbw.
They took advantage of some early movement off the pitch, while the odd one kept low too. Bragg will perhaps vouch for that.
Steven Croft then top scored for the Lightning, hitting a fabulous career best 93 not out off 90 balls, including six fours and three sixes. It was a perfectly timed one-day innings, while Horton finished 18 not out off 35 balls.
Croft assessed: “It was a really good team effort. We started well with the ball, then finished it off with the bat. After the last few games, we needed a bit more control with the ball. Saj and Tom did a good job for us.
“It wasn’t a massive total, but it was quite a small ground. We timed the chase well.”
Despite their recovery, Wallace and Wright sharing 80 in 15 overs for the sixth wicket, the Dragons were not able to attack Lancashire until the closing stages of their innings.
They scored 85 off the last ten overs and 52 off the last five, with 40 year-old Croft crashing four fours and two straight sixes in his entertaining effort. The former England off spinner thumped Kyle Hogg and Luke Procter for two maximums.
Wallace had been bowled trying to sweep Gary Keedy, while Wright was run out backing up as Smith got a finger-tip on a fierce Croft drive.
Procter, marking only his second CB40 appearance of the season, had David Harrison caught at cover by Horton before having Will Owen caught behind by Luke Sutton in the same over, the 39th.
Smith and Karl Brown then re-asserted the Lightning’s authority with an opening partnership of 74 inside 12 overs. Brown hit five fours in a lively 38-ball 32 before he fired Croft to Cosgrove at extra cover.
Smith continued the momentum, reaching his 50 off 52 balls with nine fours, before being bowled by Dean Cosker in the 23rd over, leaving the score at 116-2.
Croft had arrived at the crease at the fall of Brown's wicket, and he was happy to accumulate and see off Cosker. Horton took his time to settle, but both began to open their shoulders when they took the four overs of batting powerplay with the score at 157-2 after 31.
Croft hit Cosker for two sixes and a four – both sixes out of the ground over long off and mid wicket – in three balls before nailing David Brown for a maximum over wide long on. The pair took 43 off the powerplay to effectively end the contest.
Croft added: “I found it quite tough early on because there wasn’t a lot of pace and bounce. But it was important not to get out and see it through.”
Graham Hardcastle at Colwyn Bay
Photo: PA Photos
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd