Arron Lilley is confident that Lancashire can achieve their goal of securing a home quarter-final in the Friends Life t20 competition this week.
Three wins from their last three North Division matches against Leicestershire Foxes, Yorkshire Vikings and Notts Outlaws would do the trick seen as they play the latter in their final group match at Trent Bridge on Sunday even though they are currently a point behind in second.
The Lightning continue their bid for a home tie in the last eight with a trip to Grace Road to face Leicestershire on tuesday evening (5.15pm start).
Lancashire Lightning squad: Glen Chapple (capt), Karl Brown, Jordan Clark, Steven Croft, Gareth Cross (wkt), Kyle Hogg, Kabir Ali, Simon Katich, Simon Kerrigan, Arron Lilley, Mitch McClenaghan, Stephen Moore, Ashwell Prince, Tom Smith.
“With the record we have had in the last few weeks, any team would be confident,” said off-spinner Lilley. “We have had a big few weeks in that competition. We have had a lot of games in a short space of time and won them all.
“If we go to Leicestershire and win, then we come back to Emirates Old Trafford (against Yorkshire on Wednesday) with a big crowd behind us. We have a big chance of qualifying. If we win the next two games we will qualify for the quarter-finals, but we want to win all three to ensure we get a home quarter-final.”
Lilley is not short on confidence. He has demonstrated that in his first four Twenty20 appearances, in particular.
As he puts it, “I was chucked in at the deep end really” for his Twenty20 debut against Yorkshire Vikings at Headingley at the start of the month, and returned 1-22 from four overs. It was one of three wickets in four matches, but the most impressive part of his bowling has been his economy. In four four-over spells, he has not yet conceded more than 29.
The 22-year-old from Tameside also made his Championship debut last week, and although he went wicketless across the two innings as a second spinner, he bowled tidily and even hit 35 not out with the bat in the search for quick runs on the final morning.
“If Kegs hadn’t got out, I would have liked to have gone on and made a century!” he quipped having scored 173 in a league Twenty20 match for his club side Delph and Dobcross in the Huddersfield League recently.
“A few people have something to say about me living on the border of Lancashire and Yorkshire, but I am a true Lancashire lad,” he confirmed. “I have played for all the Lancashire age groups from under 12s right through to the Academy and then Scholarship before signing my pro contract last year.”
Lilley has assumed greater responsibility during the last 10 days or so with the absence of Stephen Parry due to his broken forearm.
“It was a shame for Paz to get injured the way he did, but sometimes it takes something like that for you to get yourself in there. Then I needed to take my chance. I bowled pretty well in the T20 and took a few wickets.
“You have to bowl like you would normally and trust your skills. It was a proud moment for me to make my first Championship appearance. It went well apart from us not being able to force the win.
“I have my chance now to bowl a few overs, and I proved against Glamorgan that, although I didn’t take any wickets, I can bowl well and that myself and Kegs can bowl well in tandem.
“I just have to keep taking my chance. If I bowl well, you never know what will happen.
“Luis Reece did really well in the second team, scored a double hundred and made a lot of runs. He put himself up there to be selected, and has now done really well in the first team. It is all about getting your chance and taking it.”
Lancashire won last season’s trip to Grace Road by 11 runs, although it was to no avail as they failed to reach the quarter-finals. However, the Lightning beat the Foxes by four runs at Emirates Old Trafford on July 7 to start their three-match winning streak.
Picture (c) PA images