Lancashire face a huge week as they battle to stave off relegation

Richard Gleeson
Richard Gleeson

Lancashire face one of the biggest weeks in their recent history, starting with a pivotal Roses match in the County Championship and ending with the chance to win a trophy at Finals Day.

Lancashire face one of the biggest weeks in their recent history, starting with a pivotal Roses match in the Specsavers County Championship and ending with the chance to win a trophy at Finals Day.

The Red Rose have booked their place at the Vitality Blast’s showpiece occasion at Edgbaston on Saturday for the seventh time, and they are aiming for a second crown.

First up, however, is the White Rose county at Emerald Headingley from Monday in a relegation battle which isn’t quite winner takes all, but it is not far off.

Lancashire and Yorkshire are separated by just one point towards the foot of Division One.

Lancashire are sixth and Yorkshire seventh, the latter occupying the second relegation place. They have three matches to play to Lancashire’s two.

A win and the Red Rose would go a long way to securing safety. A defeat and they would need snookers going into their final match against fellow strugglers Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl later this month.

Lancashire could hand a debut to new signing Richard Gleeson from Northants, the Blackpool-born England Lions fast bowler.

“It’s going to be a massive week,” said wicketkeeper-batsman Dane Vilas, who stood aside from captaincy duties during last week’s two-day tie at Taunton with Liam Livingstone (broken thumb) fit again.

“We have beaten Yorkshire twice in the T20, so hopefully we can add another one to the list before switching our thoughts to Finals Day.

“It’s always a great game to be involved in, whether it’s one-day, T20 or Championship cricket.”

South African Vilas was key to Lancashire’s recent Championship win over Worcestershire at Southport with a second-innings century, and he will hope that provides a good omen for Saturday morning’s Blast semi-final against the same opponents.

“I can’t wait,” he said. “It’s my first Finals Day, and it’s going to be incredible.

“From what I’ve heard from past players and guys in our group who’ve been there before, it’s going to be a great day.

“Somerset and Sussex have been playing good cricket down south. So all four sides that have got through have been really well.

“We’ve been really happy with how we’ve gone, but have just messed up one or two games.

“Losing that Durham game at home last month when we needed six off the last over was huge for us - in a good way. It gave us a wake-up call.

“We realised you have to be switched on for 40 overs, not just 39 as happened.

“What really helped us was playing a Roses match two days later.

“We put everything aside and just concentrated on beating our biggest rivals. That put us on a roll again.

“That Durham game also held us in good stead for the quarter-final at Kent, where it was a similar situation in the chase - almost a run a ball. But we knew we couldn’t make the same mistakes again.”

Vilas captained the side for the second half of the Blast group stage and the quarter-final win at Kent, but he is only too happy to revert to foot soldier.

He added: “It’s been a huge honour captaining the side, but to have Livvy back will be huge for us.

“The way he ended his group stage, on the back of two consecutive man-of-the-match performances, shows that.”

Returning to the Championship, while Lancashire played out an incredible tie against Somerset at Taunton last week, Yorkshire drew a high-scoring clash with Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.