Gareth Cross has hailed Lancashire's fielding ahead of Sunday's crunch clash with Essex Eagles in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition at Old Trafford.
The Lightning wicketkeeper has played his part in a run of ten wins out of eleven in both forms of one-day cricket, with the odd match out being a 40-over washout against Group C leaders Somerset at Old Trafford.
It is a run that has seen Cross and company qualify for the Friends Life t20 Finals Day – a last four tie against Leicestershire Foxes awaits them at Edgbaston on August 27 – and drag themselves back into contention in the CB40.
And Cross reckons a big part of their stunning form has been their fielding and running between the wickets.
He explained: “Our running and our fielding is something we have over a lot of teams. We can gain 20 or 30 runs on teams. Against Gloucester (at Old Trafford), we put them under pressure in the field, and that won us the game.”
Lancashire, second in the LV= County Championship, are still on for the treble, but the 40-over competition is arguably furthest from their reach.
They are fighting it out with Essex and Nottinghamshire, currently in pole position, for second place in the group. With only the best second place finisher from the three groups qualifying for the semi-finals, they realistically have to win all three of their remaining fixtures and also hope results go their way from the other groups.
Cross, who scored a match-clinching unbeaten half-century against Gloucestershire at Old Trafford last week, continued: “Everyone seems to have forgotten about us really – and, if we keep on winning, we might just slide in.
“The most important thing is to beat Essex, and then we will have a good chance. We need to win every game because in all the other groups there are two teams who have broken away and have more points than us. If we win them all, we have a good chance. If we don’t, then it is our own fault.”
The Lightning have won five out of their nine matches so far, losing three to Somerset at Taunton, Essex at Chelmsford and Glamorgan at Old Trafford.
And Cross added: “We were disappointed to lose a few games early, and we should have beaten Glamorgan at home. That would have put us in a good spot now.”
Lancashire's confidence is quite clearly sky-high.
When they were seen as second favourites at the halfway stage of Monday's Twenty20 quarter-final at Sussex, defending 152-8, they came out and bowled and fielded as if their lives depended on it, highlighting Cross's earlier point about fielding.
Overseas all-rounder Farveez Maharoof added: “The big games keep coming quickly. We have a good chance of having some silverware in all forms, the Twenty20, the CB40 and the Championship.
“The whole squad is up for it. They know the responsibility they have to go through. Hopefully we'll have another good day on Sunday at Old Trafford.”
Photo (c) Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport
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