Lancashire suffered a 125-run defeat to Worcestershire Rapids in their opening Royal London Cup match at Old Trafford.
Hamish Rutherford made a hundred on his List A debut for Worcestershire and Daryl Mitchell stroked his fourth century in seven innings against Lancashire as the 2018 semi-finalists got this year’s campaign off to a fine start.
The Rapids, who have topped the North Group in this competition in each of the past two seasons, confirmed their status as one of the most powerful white-ball sides in the country by making 367 all out in 49.1 overs.
In reply, Lancashire were 242 all out in 40.4 overs but at no point in their innings did Dane Vilas’ batsmen seem likely to reach their target.
By contrast, Rutherford confidently reached his century off 90 balls with a swept six off Glenn Maxwell and had hit 10 fours and three sixes in his 108 by the time he drove Matt Parkinson to Vilas at extra cover.
That ended the New Zealander’s 182-run third-wicket stand with Mitchell but he had dominated the Lancashire attack from the first few overs of the match.
He put on 106 in 12.4 overs with fellow opener Riki Wessels, who made 72 off 45 balls before lofting leg-spinner Parkinson to James Anderson.
Parkinson was, beyond serious dispute, the pick of Lancashire’s attack.
In addition to the scalps of Wessels and Rutherford, he deceived Mitchell in the flight to have the former Worcestershire skipper stumped by Brooke Guest for 101 and then took two wickets in his final over to finish with 5-51.
Worcestershire had lost their last four wickets for two runs in seven balls but some of the home side’s bowling figures were a grisly sight.
Maxwell finished with 2-82 from his 10 overs, Saqib Mahmood 2-59 off eight, while Anderson conceded 59 runs in eight wicketless overs – but was unlucky to have Mitchell dropped by Guest on 26.
Lancashire’s pursuit of 368 began poorly when Haseeb Hameed was caught at slip by Mitchell off Charlie Morris in the fourth over for only five.
Keaton Jennings and Guest then stabilised the innings with a stand of 75 in 14 overs.
However, Lancashire’s batsmen were never allowed to dominate the bowling as their opponents had done and Jennings’ dismissal, caught by Rutherford at short fine leg off Wayne Parnell for 54, was the first of a steady stream of dismissals.
Maxwell hit three sixes and two fours in a 21-ball 35 but his was the only uninhibited aggression offered by the home batsmen as the innings declined rapidly from 181-4 in the 32nd over to 191-8 in the 35th.
Mitchell took two of those wickets as did Parnell and Josh Tongue, but this was a triumph for a seven-man Worcestershire bowling attack which knew its business facing Lancashire batsmen who could not match their opponents’ craft.
Parkinson said afterwards: “My role was to come on and break stands and I think I did that today and it was also pleasing the way the ball was coming out.
“I love a challenge and this is a nice wicket on which to bowl spin.
“They scored 25 or 30 over par and we didn’t play as well as we should have done.
“Going to Trent Bridge on Friday will be a completely different thing and the lads are raring to go.
“This whole comp is quick and sharp – I think we’re done in two-and-a-half-weeks – and if we don’t get results on Friday (against Nottinghamshire) or on Sunday (against Yorkshire), it’ll put us in a difficult position.
“The whole North Group is strong and we are going to have fight hard and play well.”