Lancashire go into battle against Spitfires after agonising defeat
After suffering an agonising defeat in Surrey, Lancashire are doubly determined to avoid another in Kent barely 24 hours later.
The Red Rose take on the Spitfires at Canterbury in the Vitality Blast quarter-finals on Thursday, having had little time to get over their dramatic six-run defeat in the pink-ball Specsavers County Championship match at Kia Oval.
In a gripping finish, Morne Morkel’s superb 6-57 bowled Surrey to a victory in the day-night match.
Will Jacks, the substitute fielder, took his third brilliant short-leg catch of the innings as Morkel dismissed last man Matt Parkinson for seven to bowl out Lancashire for 264 and clinch title favourites Surrey’s seventh win from nine matches.
Morkel also hit the top of Graham Onions’ off-stump in his previous over as the giant South African paceman proved to be the difference in a thrilling finale.
Lancashire resumed on 177-5, needing another 94 for victory on the final day. But Morkel took 3-15 in a fierce six-over spell as the visitors slid to 209-8. He later returned to split an heroic ninth-wicket stand of 57 between Onions and Tom Bailey.
Onions made a courageous 29, including sixes over long-on off both Morkel and then Sam Curran.
Bailey remained 20 not out from 58 balls in another splendid effort.
Lancashire had reached the day’s first interval at 247-8, still 24 runs away from the win that would have lifted them from the bottom of the Division One table, with Onions and Bailey at that stage having added 38 in a stand that threatened to provide a final twist.
At ‘lunch’, Onions was on 22 not out and Bailey on 17 after Surrey, somewhat surprisingly, had not opted to take a second new ball.
Off-spinner Amar Virdi had bowled 16 wicketless overs unchanged from the Pavilion End in the opening session.
A brave sixth-wicket stand between Steven Croft and Josh Bohannon, which had begun under the floodlights on the third evening, had eventually realised 78 in 31 overs and ended when Croft fell to Morkel for 43 in the 12th over of the final day.
Then, in his next over, Morkel forced Bohannon to edge to second slip, where Rory Burns took the catch and cut short the 21-year-old’s gutsy 135-minute effort on 32 from 97 balls.
Morkel was still not finished, striking again in the fifth over of his spell with a vicious lifter that Joe Mennie thin-edged through to Foakes.
His departure for one left Lancashire wobbling before that Onions-Bailey alliance.
Lancashire assistant coach Mark Chilton said: “It’s pretty devastating for everyone in the dressing room because when the margin of defeat is just six runs then you haven’t done very much wrong.
“It was a great game of cricket but in the end it was a world-class fast bowler who tipped it in their favour, even though we showed a lot of fight to get so close.”
Lancashire will have Afghanistan left-arm chinaman bowler Zahir Khan available for Thursday's quarter-final having been left out of a tour to Ireland.
He will form a key spin partnership with leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson, who said of the quick turnaround: “It’s not ideal but we’ll be fine. We’ll get a good night’s sleep after the day-night game and we’ll be ready to go on Thursday evening.”
Lancashire beat Kent in the last eight three years ago, when they went on to win the Blast for the first and so far only time.