Lancashire’s batsmen mounted the highest successful run-chase in their county’s List A history to defeat Northamptonshire Steelbacks on a sun-soaked, run-stuffed day at Blackpool.
Replying to their opponents 370 for four, Northamptonshire’s second-highest List A total, Lancashire got home with 10 balls to spare, thanks to a century from their skipper, Keaton Jennings, and a nerveless 61 not out off 34 balls by George Lavelle.
However, defeat was hard on the Northamptonshire openers, Ricardo Vasconcelos and Emilio Gay, both of whom made centuries in what was a magnificent game of List A cricket.
Unsurprisingly the Steelbacks’ innings was dominated by Vasconcelos and Gay, whose 198-run stand set a first-wicket record for Northamptonshire against Lancashire in List A cricket.
Vasconcelos was quick to punish anything short of a length and reached three figures off 89 balls with nine fours and three sixes. By contrast, Gay’s driving was a particular delight and he got to his maiden List A century off 94 balls.
Despite their best efforts, Lancashire’s bowlers were unthreatening and it was fitting that the first wicket was a run out when Gay sent Vasconcelos back and the South African opener was beaten by Steven Croft’s throw from square leg.
Will Young and Saif Zaib made useful twenties before both batsmen were caught at deep square leg by Rob Jones, George Balderson and Danny Lamb being the successful bowlers. Four balls after Zaib’s departure, Gay was run out for 131 by Luke Wells’s direct hit from cover, leaving the Steelbacks on 304 for four after 41.3 overs.
Those wickets deprived the Steelbacks innings of a little of its impetus but Lewis McManus hit four sixes in his 44 not out to ensure that Northamptonshire reached their highest List A total against Lancashire, who conceded their third-highest total in this format. Lamb, who took one for 64 from his ten overs was the pick of the home attack. most members of which were roughly treated on a superb batting pitch.
But Northamptonshire’s bowlers found things no easier against the in-form openers, Keaton Jennings and Luke Wells, who put on 130 in 16 overs before Wells was caught at long off for 84 by the substitute fielder Harry Gouldstone off Saif Zaib.
Zaib maintained a degree of control and took the second wicket when he caught and bowled Josh Bohannon for 26, thus ending the Boltonian’s 72-run second-wicket stand with Jennings.
Lancashire’s efforts to accelerate were further hampered by the loss of Steven Croft, caught and bowled by Alex Russell for 13, and Rob Jones, caught behind by McManus off Sales for eight, but the crucial blow seemed to have been struck when Jennings, having reached an 86-ball hundred was briliantly caught on the deep midwicket boundary by Gay off Sales for 125.
But Lavelle was joined by George Balderson and the pair’s 82-run stand for the sixth wicket was vital in securing one of Lancashire’s most memorable victories.