Head coach David Ripley said that the Steelbacks’ performance with the bat was key to the Vitality Blast defeat at Lancashire Lightning.

Aside from Richard Levi’s impressive 40 off just 21 balls the travellers just could not get out of the blocks at Old Trafford, as Lancashire’s spinners pinned them down.

Liam Livingstone’s outfielders also rediscovered their best form as the visitors were limited to 123-9 in their 20 overs, a target which Lancashire’s batsmen overhauled with 23 balls to spare, Alex Davies making 64 not out, his second Vitality Blast 50 in consecutive innings.       

The initial signs were good for the Steelbacks, who reached 62 for one off 5.5 overs. Ben Duckett had fallen cheaply, but with Levi getting into his groove the situation looked promising.

But Jordan Clark clung on to a return catch blasted back at him by the South African and that reverse began a spell in which the visitors lost three wickets for six runs in 11 balls. 

Josh Cobb and Richard Vasconcelos both fell to fine catches by Arron Lilley and Keaton Jennings respectively and none of the other Steelbacks batsmen could dominate a Lancashire attack monopolised by slow bowlers.

“Richard Levi fell to a blinding catch but from then on I thought we were a bit naïve,” Ripley said. “We should have plotted out way to 150 or 160 and that would have been competitive. Poor batting set us out to lose that game fairly comfortably.

“We had two lads caught off long hops but we were also too defensively minded. We needed to hit the balls into gaps and run better than we did, we needed a more positive intent. 

“We bowled and fielded pretty well, which is good because we haven’t done that so well over the last couple of games.”

The Steelbacks’ innings in the field also started promisingly. Having seen Lancashire’s slow bowlers shine, Alex Wakely turned to spin immediately. The decision paid off inside the first over, with Seekkuge Prasanna having Livingstone caught by Vasconcelos. Then in the fourth over Levi caught Arron Lilley off Graeme White to leave the Lightning at 36-2.

From then on the game belonged to Lancashire, who methodically worked their way to the 124-run target.