Watching Lancashire Lightning in the Friends Life twenty20 is not for the faint-hearted!
But Red Rose overseas star Mitchell McClenaghan is convinced that putting in the hard yards now will benefit him and his team-mates in the long run should they reach the quarter-finals.
The Lightning are still very much on course for the knockout stages. They may have to win both of their last two games to do it, although it is possible that one win may be enough to secure a last eight berth. If they only win one, it would leave Derbyshire Phantoms having to win their last two games. Then it would come down to net run-rate deciding who goes through. A third-placed finish could also be enough to qualify, but that would depend on the records of the 3rd placed teams in the other two groups.
Before then, the first of those last two games is against t’other lot from over t’hill at Emirates Old Trafford tonight.
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.
Yorkshire Vikings squad: Azeem Rafiq (Capt), Gary Ballance, Jack Brooks, Daniel Hodgson (wk), Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Liam Plunkett, Richard Pyrah, Adil Rashid, Joe Sayers, Ryan Sidebottom, Iain Wardlaw.
Yorkshire head across the Pennines with their chances of progression slim to say the least. The Vikings currently sit bottom of the North Division with only two wins and a tie from their seven matches, and it seems very unlikely that even if they win all their remaing games, they would have sufficent points to go thrrough.
The reverse fixture between the Roses rivals at Headingley earlier this month finished in a tie - the first of two in five matches for the Red Rose.
McClenaghan shone with both ball and bat against Leicestershire Foxes last night, the other tie. After taking 2-29 from four overs to restrict the Foxes to 139-9, he then came out at number 11 with five needed off the last ball to win and four to tie.
He promptly paddle swept Shakib Al-Hasan to the fine-leg fence for four to leave his side on 10 points from eight matches. The later result from Trent Bridge, where Derbyshire Phantoms beat Nottinghamshire Outlaws, means that Lancashire are second in the group on net run-rate behind Notts, while Derbyshire are third on eight points from eight games.
Lancashire have only ever had five Twenty20 ties in the 10-year history of the competition, including two against Leicester. All of the ties have come in the last three seasons - and two in the last three weeks.
"I bite my nails, and they're struggling a bit,” the 27-year-old Auckland star admitted last night. “It is nerve-wracking, but it's hopefully hardening us up come the finals time. We've had a lot of close games, so hopefully that's put us in good stead going forward.
"Any experience of these situations can be key. Hopefully the guys who haven't been in this situation before will have learnt a lot.”
Before leaving Grace Road, McClenaghan described tonight’s clash as a virtual quarter-final for them: “The boys have really got to put in a better effort than we did here. That's what we spoke about in the changing room,” he added.
"There's never going to more on a game than there is between Lancashire and Yorkshire. The intensity will be there like it was in the last game. Hopefully we'll go hard at them.”
Picture (c) Simon Pendrigh