By Lewis Gibson
Lancashire Lightning ended their 2020 campaign last night with defeat to eventual winners Notts Outlaws in a soggy T20 finals day at Edgbaston.
The young roses side ended their season disappointingly, but there are plenty of positives for the North-West side in a bizarre season.
For the first time in T20 blast history, finals day was held in October. Instead of the usual carnival atmosphere of finals day, the players found themselves playing reduced overs thanks to the autumnal weather in front of thousands of empty grey seats.
Lancashire batted first and had eleven overs to set their score. Liam Livingstone (22) Alex Davies (15) and Steven Croft (33) all chipped in for Lightning to set Notts 95 to win off their eleven overs.
Notts managed to pick up just four wickets, Matthew Carter impressing with 2-16 off his two overs.
Jake Ball also managed to find himself involved, taking a neat catch to dismiss Livingstone and taking the scalp of Stephen Croft who was starting to score freely.
Notts Outlaws responded in fashion and put Lancashire straight on the back foot. Notts were 50-2 going into the fifth over and Lancashire looked to be dead and buried.
Promising bowler Tom Hartley and young spinner Matt Parkinson lead the Lancashire fightback with some tight bowling, Hartley managed to take the wickets of Joe Clarke and Tom Moore’s. Parkinson managed the big wicket of Alex Hales and kept his bowling tight to build the pressure.
Notts needed 29 from 24 balls to win, and it was an over from part time spinner Livingstone which turned the game.
Dan Christian managed to smash four consecutive sixes to leg side, all but sealing the Notts victory. Parkinson picked up the wicket of Christian the next over, but it was all too late.
Lancashire now have time to look forward to next season and establishing themselves as a Division One side. The Coronavirus pandemic meant that County cricket was put off until August 1st and the ECB had to restructure the season.
The Bob Willis trophy was introduced to take place instead of the usual County Championship, arranged in small regional sections, whilst the T20 blast went ahead as normal behind closed doors. The Premier new competition ‘The Hundred’ was postponed in its debut season.
However, Lancashire won’t be too disheartened with their progress this season and have plenty to build on come next summer.
Just one defeat in the Bob Willis Trophy saw them manage a third-place finish, with two victories and two draws. This includes a mauling of Durham and another comfortable win over Derbyshire.
Leicestershire were the only side who managed to beat the Roses.
Wicketkeeper Alex Davies had a solid season in the new competition, scoring 337 runs at an average of 48.14.
Josh Bohannon a product of the Lancashire academy impressed in his third year of first-class cricket. Bohannon mustered up a solid 257 runs at an average of 36.71.
Lancashire have made great progress this season with a youthful side and have plenty cause for optimism for next year.
Tom Bailey lead the wicket taking for Lancashire this season, topping the chart with just 13 wickets, closely followed by Danny Lamb who managed 12. Nineteen-year-old George Balderson impressed in his debut season taking 9 wickets at an average of 32.88.
Lightning will be pleased with their progression to the T20 blast semi-final, despite a disappointing end. It was their first appearance at finals day since they lifted the trophy in 2015, which is certainly more cause for optimism for next year.
Alex Davies was also top scorer for Lightning in their T20 campaign, making an impressive 299 runs from 10 innings.
Veteran Steven Croft followed with 272, whilst Keaton Jennings managed 233, including a fantastic 108 from 63 balls vs Durham.
Leg-Spinner Matthew Parkinson topped the wicket charts with an impressive 15 from 10 matches, including impressive figures of 3/9 in the Quarter Final vs Surrey. Tom Bailey followed with 10 wickets and Batsman Livingstone chipped in with 9 wickets.
Lancashire and England Cricket now face a Winter of uncertainty, but with seven months to go until the 2021 season, we can only hope that everything will be back to normal.