Match Preview: Lancashire Lightning v Essex Eagles

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Lancashire Lightning v Essex Eagles

Vitality Blast
Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester
Friday 08 July, 6:30pm start

 
The Eagles have progressed to the Vitality Blast Quarter-Finals for the first time since the victorious 2019 season after an impressive showing in the group stages.

Essex are no strangers to the knockout stages, this being the 11th time they have made the Quarter-Finals in the competition’s 20-year history.

The 2022 campaign has been a particularly strong one for the Eagles, their 9 wins in the group stage second only to the 10 victories in the 2015 season.

In a repeat of 2019, the Eagles’ opponents are Lancashire Lightning and they will be hoping to replicate the result at Chester-Le-Street that led Essex to Finals Day that year.

Squad:

Matt Critchley returns to a 14-man squad selected for the fixture.

Lancashire squad copy

 

Opposition:

The Eagles’ opponents, Lancashire Lightning, finished in 2nd place in the North Group, separated only by net run rate to leaders Birmingham Bears and 3rd place Derbyshire Falcons.

Lancashire began their Vitality Blast campaign in thrilling fashion with a memorable tie in the clash of the roses. They then hit a fine run of form, winning their next six fixtures and looking like early contenders to finish at the top of the table.

Although their second set of seven games hasn’t been as prolific, all four of their losses coming during this period, they did enough to qualify and a dramatic final-over victory against Birmingham Bears on Sunday night secured the home tie.

Steven Croft has been a staple of Lancashire squads for many years and the veteran all-rounder has had another great season with the bat. His 422 runs at 35.16 are the most by any Lightning batter, with overseas all-rounder Tim David second in the charts with 383 runs at 31.91 and an impressive strike rate of 179.81.

With the ball, Richard Gleeson has been head-and-shoulders above the rest. The 23 wickets he has taken is second only to Leicestershire’s Naveen-ul-Haq (24) in this year’s competition.

Gleeson’s form with the ball has earned him a place in England’s IT20 squad to play India and his inclusion, along with Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone, Phil Salt and Matt Parkinson, casts doubt over whether he will be available to play for the Lightning.

Head to Head:

H2H

 

Last time out:

The Eagles have only played Lancashire twice in T20 cricket. Before 2019’s Quarter-Final the only time the sides had previously met in T20 cricket was in 2010, also in a Quarter-Final, when Essex recorded a thumping 8-wicket victory at Chelmsford thanks to 4/25 from Chris Wright and half-centuries for Mark Pettini (81) and Matt Walker (74*).

The sides waited nine years before they met again, this time at Chester-Le-Street while Emirates Old Trafford was being used for the 4th Test of the Ashes series.

Batting first, Lancashire were rocked by early wickets for Aaron Beard and Ravi Bopara and when overseas star Glenn Maxwell was out, Lancashire were left on 47-3 after 6.4 overs.

Alex Davies and Dane Vilas helped steady the ship for the Lightning as they recovered to 159-5, thanks largely to Davies’ 80*. Beard and Bopara were the wicket-takers for Essex, picking up two each, while Simon Harmer went for just 13 from his 3 overs.

Cameron Delport helped the Eagles keep up with the rate in the early stages of the run chase, but when he was out for 44 from 30 balls Lancashire applied the squeeze and Essex fell behind the rate.

When Ravi Bopara joined Ryan ten Doeschate at the crease, the Eagles needed 55 runs from 5.4 overs for victory. That was whittled down to 35 from the final 3 overs as the prospect of a tense finish loomed.

At this point, the Eagles pair used all of their T20 experience to launch the side home with four balls to spare, Bopara striking four of the last six deliveries he faced for maximums.

The Season so far:

The Eagles have enjoyed an exceptional start to the Vitality Blast campaign, winning 9 of their 14 group stage fixtures. Read a blow-by-blow account of the Eagles’ journey to the Quarter-Finals here.

The Standout Performers:

mpep leading run scorere leading wicket-taker hamrer
 

How to Watch:

Tonight’s game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Cricket and while there will be no free live stream available, Walkabout Chelmsford will be showing the game and providing offers on food and drinks for Eagles fans.

A live scorecard of the game will be available via the Essex Cricket Matchzone is available here.