Glen Chapple leads a 13-man squad for Wednesday's LV= County Championship match against Essex, with Kabir Ali and Luis Reece included for the first time in a 4-day contest.
Lancashire squad: Glen Chapple (capt), Andrea Agathangelou, Steven Croft, Gareth Cross (wkt), Kabir Ali, Simon Katich, Simon Kerrigan, Kyle Hogg, Stephen Parry, Ashwell Prince, Luke Procter, Luis Reece, Wayne White.
Chapple hopes to see Lancashire’s latest Championship match against Essex at Chelmsford pan out differently to the reverse fixture last month even though he wants the same result.
The Red Rose skipper, whose side are bidding for their third win of the season in their seventh match, is keen for his side to take the lead in games early on instead of nipping in with some excellent cricket just in the nick of time.
Lancashire beat Essex at Emirates Old Trafford after a nail-biting run chase of 253 in the last 51 overs of the contest, which turned out to be 47 after four were lost to bad light. It was their second thrilling win on the trot having come from behind to beat Glamorgan at Colwyn Bay.
“I think the one thing we can take (from the home match) is that we back ourselves in tight situations,” said Chapple. “That's a really good thing in the last two or three seasons. That's something we have over some teams.
“What we're looking for is to dominate teams from day one. With the points system the way it is, if we can start doing that in a season where you're looking for eight or nine wins, two or three easy ones release the pressure. You don't want to be scrapping for eight or nine tough ones.”
While Lancashire have played some excellent cricket so far this season, Chapple and coach Peter Moores have not hidden away from the fact that they are searching for a greater consistency as the halfway point in the campaign approaches.
“We fired in the first two games, but we ended up with draws because of the weather,” continued Chapple. “We did start well in that respect.
“Then we got two wins from games we weren't dominating. They were also positives because we showed great spirit and the ability to win close games.
“After that, we haven't played quite as well as we'd like. We've played good cricket at times, have been good in the field and we've had a competitive spirit. But at the same time, we've struggled for big first-innings totals. That's something we're targeting.”
“Our batters are looking to build a platform. They are working hard to improve. If we can improve in that area, we will put teams under pressure in the first innings rather than going into the second on a level playing fielding, which makes results all that more difficult to achieve.
“Batting at the top of the order is more difficult, we have to acknowledge that. When the ball becomes softer and the pace of the pitch slower, batting does become easier. A lot of teams do have this problem. We are looking for a more solid foundation, but it is the most difficult place to bat.”
Only 12 points separate second in Division Two, Worcestershire on 74 points, from sixth, Gloucestershire on 62.
Lancashire are third and only three points behind Worcester with two games in hand. Lancashire have a game in hand on every other team in the top six, including leaders Northamptonshire, who are 44 points clear. The Red Rose county still have to play Northants twice.
“I think if we're honest, we're in a good position,” added Chapple. “If we pick up our standards to where we want them to be, we've got every reason to be optimistic. We need to be proactive and see the picture clearly that we can play better. Whilst we're in a good position, which we're reasonably happy with, we want to progress.”
Essex sit fourth with two wins, two losses and three draws from their seven matches. New Zealand Test batsman Hamish Rutherford is in line for his Championship debut as their overseas player.
Photo of Luis Reece (c) Simon Pendrigh