Lancashire head into Sunday's Yorkshire Bank 40 clash with Durham Dynamos at Emirates Durham knowing they can ill-afford many more slip ups if they are to keep alive their hopes of qualification for the semi-finals in September.
The Lightning, semi-finalists last season, have not made the flying start they would have hoped for having lost two, won one and had the other rained off in Group B.
Kabir Ali is in contention to debut having been out of action since the start of the season with the knee injury he sustained at the Bangladesh Premier League. He has been named in a 13-man squad, which includes Simon Katich as captain.
Squad: Simon Katich (capt), Karl Brown, Jordan Clark, Steven Croft, Gareth Cross (wkt), Kyle Hogg, Kabir Ali, Simon Kerrigan, Stephen Moore, Oliver Newby, Stephen Parry, Ashwell Prince, Wayne White.
Lancashire’s last outing was the nine-wicket defeat against Hampshire Royals at the Ageas Bowl on May 22.
Coach Peter Moores said: “We’ve had a bit of a bitty start in that it seems like we’ve hardly played because of the way the fixtures have fallen. We lost the first one, then had one rained out, won one and then lost again at Hampshire.
“We need to start winning. The way the YB40 campaign is geared, you need early momentum. You need to win a couple, so it’s a really big game, as is the one at Guildford (next Sunday) and then we play again away at Essex (a fortnight tomorrow).
“There are three big games, and if we turn up with three wins, we’ll look at ourselves as being in a solid position in that competition. To do that, we have to play well.
“We know that from last year’s YB40 and in Twenty20 cricket over the last few years, we’ve got some really exciting cricketers.
“In the batting department, the top five has been very strong - people like Moore, Croft and Brown, who are very strong at the top of the order. We’ll look to them for a solid start.
“The part of our one-day side that has changed a bit is more the bowling side. It’s a good opportunity for people to come in and show what they’ve got and cement a place for the rest of the season.”
Durham, deducted a quarter of a point before the start of the season due to a breach of the 2012 team salary cap, have won two and lost two of their five matches so far. They currently sit third in the group.
Ali was one of three winter recruits from other counties alongside Katich, who also came from Hampshire, and Wayne White from Leicestershire.
Ali, aged 32, and Katich were both YB40 winners last season with Hampshire, and the former has played one Test and 14 one-day internationals for England.
Moores added: “Kabir’s going really well. He’s fit to be selected having worked really, really hard. I’m really pleased for him. He’s played some second-team cricket, and he’s getting to where we want him to get to.
“What we’ve being doing with Kabir is have him play some second-team cricket, which is fairly controlled. He can build his overs up and get time on his feet. He’s been bowling his spells in the morning here (at Liverpool) and then he bowls his second spell at lunch time. It’s about increasing his volume.
“To be fair to Sam Byrne and Phil Scott, they’ve been great with him. He had some work to do because that knee’s been troublesome for a while. He’s had to, in some ways, re-educate how he goes about his cricket to get the best out of him.”
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh