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Team Talk STORY
Croft relishing Roses clashes

Steven Croft says confidence is sky high in the Lancashire camp as they prepare for their trip to face Roses rivals Yorkshire at Headingley tonight.

Lancashire travel across the Pennines with a 13-man squad. Luke Procter misses out due to a slight strain and loan signing Ajmal Shahzad is ineligible for the games against Yorkshire.

Squad: Glen Chapple (capt), Yasir Arafat, Karl Brown, Jordan Clark, Steven Croft, Gareth Cross (wk), Paul Horton, Gary Keedy, Simon Kerrigan, Stephen Moore, Oliver Newby, Stephen Parry, Tom Smith.

Preview by Graham Hardcastle
Both sides have started their Friends Life t20 North Division campaigns impressively, with the White Rose leading the way and two points clear of the Red Rose. Yorkshire have nine points from six matches and Lancashire seven from five, with both having won three of their last four with a No Result being the odd ones out.

Croft and co head across the Pennines looking to avenge last season’s double defeat to the Tykes in this competition.

“We feel like we can beat anyone,” said the batting all-rounder, who clinched the man of the match award in Monday’s win over Durham at Old Trafford thanks to a blistering 65 not out off just 44 balls.

“If someone beats us on a day where we've shown up as well, that's going to happen in Twenty20. As a team, it's something we're not scared of. We can't fear failure because you're going to lose games of Twenty20.

“We don't mind batting or bowling first. We just feel like when we get on a roll, no one can stop us really. The last two games have been good team performances.”

The clash at Headingley is the first of two fantastic Fridays with the return fixture at Old Trafford next week.

“It's the one we all look for at the start of the year,” continued Croft, who went on to talk about the rivalry between the two counties. “It would be great to get a win there to put us in good stead coming back home. They're the games you want to play in with the packed house.
“The fixtures are set out well. We don't mind going there first because it will be a bit tougher than the home game. We'd rather get that out of the way and hopefully get a win to bring it here having deflated them.

“We get on really well with the Yorkshire lads, but there's a bit of tension in the crowd. It’s still a great fixture to play in for both sides.

“When they come here, they won't get a nice warm reception, likewise when we go there. It’s those games you want to play in. You want to silence the crowd, and they'll want to do the same when they come here.”

Meanwhile, overseas star Yasir Arafat has heaped praise on his new team-mates ahead of his first Roses clash.

The Pakistan international fast bowler has made an impressive start to his spell with Lancashire, highlighted by his return of 3-21 against Durham, which also helped him become English Twenty20’s highest ever wicket-taker.

If he gets one wicket at Headingley, he will have brought up his century of scalps in just 71 matches, while he is also the third leading wicket-taker in Twenty20 cricket worldwide.

“It is an excellent place, with good players and the coaching staff have been brilliant. I am settling in nicely,” said the 30 year-old. “It is an easy-going dressing room, and I’m enjoying it.

“We look like the best team in this pool. We have strong games coming up against Yorkshire. And if we win these two games, we will have a great chance to go through. We need to win at Headingley to make a mark and show we are a good team.”

Photo of Steven Croft (c) Simon Pendrigh