Lancashire aim to regain top spot
Lancashire will look to take over at the top of the LV= County Championship table when they take on Nottinghamshire at Southport this week.
The Red Rose closed the gap on leaders Durham, who have played a game more, to five points at the weekend when they defeated Roses rivals Yorkshire by 23 runs in a remarkable match at Headingley Carnegie.
The win was Lancashire’s seventh in 10 four-day games this summer and they now have the opportunity to pull clear at the summit, with neither Durham or third-placed Warwickshire - who travel to Liverpool next week - in action.
Following his side’s victory over Yorkshire, Lancashire skipper Glen Chapple said: “There’s a long way to go and four or five teams can still get up there, but I’m delighted with how we’re going so far.”
Few expected Chapple’s men to contend for the title this year, despite their fourth-placed finish in 2010.
“People made assumptions that we didn’t have high quality, but that’s just due to the records not being there - we’ve got no 35-year-old batsman who’s got 20,000 runs at 50,” he continued.
“We had done well the year before, we know we are a very competitive team and we’ve got great character within the ranks.
“I think players have developed over the last couple of years and they are quality cricketers. We have certain strengths and we can improve in certain areas, but you know for a fact with our lads they will work at their game and we will be a challenge for anyone.”
Lancashire’s impressive form has coincided with their absence from Old Trafford, which is being redeveloped throughout the season.
They have registered three victories out of four at Liverpool Cricket Club's Aigburth ground, but Chapple refutes the theory they have benefited from playing on sportier wickets.
“We’ve had good weather and that’s the main thing,” he explained. “The pitches at Liverpool have been good batting strips. There’s been a bit there for the bowlers but they have been good pitches, we’ve had over 400 there a few times.
“We have enjoyed playing at Liverpool, there’s no doubt about that. There’s a great atmosphere and there’s a good crowd close to the pitch that keep the players going. We’ve loved it, but I think the weather, and the chance to play four days of good cricket, has been key.”
Chapple returned from a trapped nerve in his neck to take five wickets in the second innings against Yorkshire and will feature once again at Southport after being rested for Sunday’s Clydesdale Bank 40 victory over the Unicorns.
When asked about his injury, he responded: “It’s gone. I’m happy with that. It was probably more than I expected to bowl, 25, 26 overs in the second innings, but I felt fairly strong at the end.”
Lancashire have named a 14-man squad, with Luke Procter, Junaid Khan and Simon Kerrigan added to the XI that triumphed at Headingley.
Nottinghamshire, who were forced to settle for a draw against Hampshire last time out, could hand a first-class debut to 23-year-old opener Karl Turner after he hit 186 for the club’s second XI against MCC Universities.
Graeme White is set to retain his place as a second spinner alongside Samit Patel, while Australian batsman Adam Voges is fit to play after resting a sore elbow over the weekend.
In the other championship match starting tomorrow, struggling Worcestershire welcome Somerset, nine-wicket victors over Durham last week, to New Road.