About the Match
The action in the North group of the NatWest T20 Blast continues as the runners-up from the last year’s competition, Durham Jets, take on the winners from 2015, the Lancashire Lightning. These are two evenly matches sides that will look to register an important victory early in their campaign.
Lancashire begins their campaign this year without their highest scorer of last year, Alviro Peterson, who is currently serving a two-year ban for being involved in match-fixing. This, however, does not mean the side led by Steven Croft is light on star power.
Jos Buttler is expected to be available for the majority of the Natwest T20 Blast for Lancashire and will doubtlessly be the star attraction for the crowds. Along with him, Lightning also has Junaid Khan and Ryan McLaren as their overseas players.
Junaid Khan was a part of the Champions Trophy winning Pakistani side and has the potential to break matches open with his bowling.
Liam Livingstone and Karl Brown also had good a good season last year scoring almost 300 runs each. Livingstone also hit 12 sixes, the most behind Alviro Peterson, however, Buttler played only 6 matches and hit 10.
Lancashire Lightning is also going to be without its highest wicket taker from last year, George Edwards or Nathan Buck who was second on the list.
Dane Vilas, though, is going to add some international quality to the campaign as is Shivnarine Chanderpaul (still scoring runs easily) on a Kolpak deal.
This Lancashire side has reason to be one of the fancied ones for the title this year.
The Jets look a little light on star power this year as they start off the campaign with three players lost to international duty. They have also lost Scott Borthwick who took 18 wickets and Mark Stoneman who scored 356 runs for them last season.
The Paul Coughlin led side has reinforced the batting by bringing in Tom Latham, however, he is himself going through a torrid time in the international circuit. He could turn it around at the NatWest T20 Blast where he is likely to face a lot more bowlers below international standard but a few early failures could really dent his confidence as well.
Paul Collingwood at the age of 41 is still going strong and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the format of the game that he was probably best suited to but never got to play in his prime.
His 139 runs with 4 not-outs last season came at a strike rate of 134.95 and showed that the fire was still burning pretty hot.
Most of the Jets success last season could be put down to their bowling. Borthwick is no longer there but captain Paul Coughlin and Chris Rushworth are still present to carry on their good work. They took 17 and 19 wickets respectively at impressive economy rates of 8.66 and 6.45.
Graham Onions is also in the squad and could find himself playing a big role this season. For the Durham Jets to do well this season batsmen like Collingwood, Mustard, and MacLeod will have to step up a level and support the likes of Latham and Stephen Cook.
We think that the Jets are lacking a big hitter, especially since Ben Stokes is away for England duty and could struggle to get the big overs in at the end. This means their start becomes even more important. Look to back the opposition is the Jets are chasing a big total or get off to a slow start.
Pitch and Conditions
The Riverside Ground usually throws up an excellent batting pitch for the shorter formats of the game and with a side packed with batting stars, we expect nothing different this time around. The weather forecast for tomorrow is for a dry day with some clouds around, however, nothing that should interrupt the match.
Lancashire Lightning To Win