Arron Lilley's t20 debut against Yorkshire last night has been hailed by Lightning team-mate Steven Croft.
The 22-year-old off-spinner was thrown in at the deep end by Peter Moores and Glen Chapple, but he thrived in the red hot atmosphere of a 15,000 sell-out at Headingley to take 1-22 from four overs.
Unfortunately for Lilley and the Lightning, they could not convert their good performance with the ball and in the field into two points, instead having to settle for a tie and one.
They now head back to Emirates Old Trafford tomorrow for another crunch Friends Life t20 clash against Leicestershire Foxes.
Lilley was picked alongside fellow spinners Stephen Parry and Croft after Simon Kerrigan had to miss out due to a family funeral, and he claimed the wicket of Adil Rashid lbw on the reverse sweep.
And Croft says the Red Rose players and coaching staff expect this to be the start of a successful career for the Tameside player because they are expecting “big things in the future”.
Ironically, Lilley plays his league cricket in Yorkshire for Huddersfield League side Delph and Dobcross.
“It was brilliant for him,” said Croft. “He couldn’t have asked for a better debut really in front of 15,000 people. He probably thinks it’s an easy game!
“It was a bit unlucky for Kegs, who’d have probably been in line to play. But every credit to Arron. He probably didn’t know driving into the game that he’d be playing, but he stepped up to the plate and did really well.
“He probably had some nerves there, but everyone knew it would be a good game for him to come in and show what he’s got.
“He was actually speaking about his batting before the game more than his bowling because he got 170-odd the other night in a T20 game (for Delph). He wanted to be above Pazza in the batting order.
“He’s full of energy, and I think he’s a really good prospect. He’s a good spinner, fielder and batter down the order. For a finger spinner, he’s accurate and gives it a good turn. With Keggsy and Pazza around, he can learn off them.”
Lancashire clinched the double over the Foxes last season, and they could do with doing so again this season as their bid to reach the quarter-final reaches a key point.
With only one win and a tie from four North Division matches so far, Croft added: “We can’t really afford anymore slip-ups or a bad day really. We’ve got to drag ourselves up. We’d want to win that one.
“We’d have liked the two points (against Yorkshire), but we’ve got to look forward to Sunday.”
Leicestershire have won one of three matches so far, which was their latest against Durham at Grace Road last night. Queenslander Joe Burns scored 81 not out in a total of 176-5 before Anthony Ireland took 4-22 as Durham were bowled out for 165.
Lancashire Lightning squad: Glen Chapple (captain), Kabir Ali, Karl Brown, Jordan Clark, Gareth Cross (wkt), Steven Croft, Kyle Hogg, Simon Katich, Simon Kerrigan, Arron Lilley, Mitchell McClenaghan, Stephen Moore, Stephen Parry, Ashwell Prince, Tom Smith.
Picture - Arron Lilley receives congratulations from Simon Katich after taking his first Lancs wicket (c) Clint Hughes/EMPICS Sport