Lancashire Lightning enjoyed a thumping Friends Provident t20 win over Durham Dynamos at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Steven Croft, promoted back up to No.3 in the batting order, and Stephen Parry were the stars as the Lightning comfortably defended their imposing 187-8, winning by 50 runs.
Durham, who have now surrendered a place in the top four of the North Division, were bowled out for 137 inside the 19th over.
Croft hit a season’s best 68 off 45 balls, including seven fours and two sixes, before left-arm spinner Parry claimed a career best 4-28 from his four overs.
“We’ve got the couple of wins we set out for (this week). It puts us in a good position in the group now,” said Croft.
“Even in the defeats we probably bowled and fielded well. We didn’t chase down a target like we should have. It wasn’t like we were getting walked all over, it was just a blip on the batting side.
“We’ve overcome that, and we’re definitely looking good for a top four finish.”
Lancashire’s fourth win of the campaign, and their second against the Dymanos, was built upon their batting performance after Glen Chapple had won the toss.
Croft was supported by 21 off 12 balls from opener Stephen Moore, 36 off 26 from Australian overseas Simon Katich and 32 not out for New Zealand all-rounder Nathan McCullum.
Croft had been moved up to bat in the No.3 position that served him so well during last season’s competition, and it was his first half century in this format for just short of a year.
“I really enjoyed batting back up at No.3. I batted there for most of last season. I got a call this morning saying I was batting three ‘try and make the most of it’,” he explained after cracking seven fours and two sixes.
He shared a fourth wicket stand of 67 in seven overs through the middle of the innings with Katich. The 25 year-old also hit the first six into the seats under the Point – open to the public for the first time – when he flicked Ben Harmison over long leg.
Durham strike bowler Steve Harmison claimed career best figures of 5-41 from his four overs, the former England man becoming the first bowler to bag five in this season’s competition.
Harmison also became the most expensive bowler to take five wickets in the history of the English domestic competition.
Lancashire’s chances of victory were boosted dramatically in the early stages of Durham’s reply because the off-spin of McCullum struck twice to remove Ian Blackwell and fellow Kiwi Ross Taylor.
Blackwell reverse swept him to Tom Smith at backward point in the first over and Taylor skewed him to Parry at short third man to leave the score at 13-2 in the third over. McCullum finished with 2-21 from four.
Sajid Mahmood then bowled Phil Mustard for 21 to leave the Dynamos at 39-3 in the sixth over of their chase.
Parry then added the wickets of Ben Stokes and Dale Benkenstein, caught at long off and long on by Simon Kerrigan and Croft respectively, with successive balls in the eighth over.
And he also trapped Gareth Breese lbw and had Will Smith caught in the covers by Katich with successive balls in the 12th to leave the visitors stranded at 76-7.
Kerrigan and Chapple added further wickets, the skipper taking the last two after Liam Plunkett, who top scored with 31 off 24, and Ben Harmison shared the visiting side’s highest partnership – 52 for the ninth wicket.
Lancashire face Leicestershire Foxes at Grace Road on Friday night before returning to LV= County Championship action against Yorkshire here next week.
“It was a great win, set up well by Crofty. It was a good day all round against a very good side,” added Parry.
Graham Hardcastle at Old Trafford
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd