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Lancashire has been one of the strongest counties traditionally and produced some wonderful cricketers for England. This is why their recent poor run in the format has come as a surprise. Remember that Lancashire won the T20 Blast in 2015. The question for Lancashire Lightning will be, as they prepare to open their season against the Worcestershire Rapids, is whether they have done enough to fight for a knockout position once again? The Rapids finished 8th out of 9 teams last season but have made some very good overseas signings ahead of this season. They are not a team to be taken lightly.
White ball cricket seems to be a complete mystery for Lancashire at the moment. The county struggled in the Royal London Cup and will be desperate to give a better account of itself in the Vitality Blast 2018.
Lancashire Lightning has made two interesting additions to its squad for this year. James Faulkner helped Lancashire win the T20 title in 2015 and has now been recalled to the squad. The other overseas player is also an Aussie, fast bowler Joe Mennie.
We are not too sure about either of them. Faulkner has struggled to have the same impact in cricket over the last few years. His death bowling is no longer as effective and his batting too inconsistent to be taken seriously. He will need to change things around dramatically to help Lancashire Lightning relive the glory days.
Joe Mennie is an international bowler but he has never been known to be an effective T20 bowler. Lancashire is taking a big leap of faith in our opinion by picking him as their overseas option.
Lancashire has also added some class to its squad in the form of Graham Onions and Keaton Jennings. Liam Livingstone is going to be the batsmen that everyone will look to in the squad, even though he just has two fifties from 42 T20 matches.
Jordan Clark and Matt Parkinson are two more players to keep an eye on. Lancashire does not have a weak team by any stretch of the imagination but it may need one player to really have a great tournament and spark the imagination of the others.
Alex Davies, Liam Livingstone, KK Jennings, DJ Vilas, Steven Croft, Jordan Clark, James Faulkner, Arron Lilley, Joe Mennie, SD Parry, Matt Parkinson.
The Worcestershire Rapids had a horror season last year as they finished second from the bottom and were almost never competitive. Things promise to be different this year, though, as they have signed some of the most exciting T20 players around.
Martin Guptill is among the most dangerous limited-overs batsmen in the world. Imagine him being unleashed in flat batting conditions, fast outfield, and bowling attacks that are well below what he faces on the international level.
Guptill brings with him the ability to win matches as well as hit sixes with remarkable ease. He will be joined by Callum Ferguson from Australia, another high-quality batsman that has been unlucky to have not played more international cricket than he has.
Travis Head is also expected to be available for the side once he gets free from his Australian national duties and that is another big plus for the Rapids batting lineup. Its also not just about the overseas signings as Ross Whiteley, Joe Clarke, and Brett D’Oliviera are all a part of the Worcestershire squad.
This is a batting lineup that can destroy the opposition on its day.
What about their bowling, though? That is the question that puzzled fans must be thinking as the Rapids have added plenty of batting to a decent lineup and ignored the bowling completely. Now, injuries to Joe Leach and Josh Tongue has left the Worcestershire Rapids severely depleted.
Ed Barnard and Daryl Mitchell are promising all-rounders but we suspect the Rapids will have to call on every bit of their batting strength to be able to register wins in this tournament.
Martin Guptill, Joe Clarke, Callum Ferguson, Daryl Mitchell, Brett D'Oliveira, Ben Cox, Ross Whiteley, Luke Wood, Patrick Brown, Ed Barnard, George Rhodes.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
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A sunny day with next to no chance of rain has been forecast for Manchester. The good weather forecast should be music to the batsmen’s ears as they prepare to take guard at Old Trafford, the venue of many a record-breaking inning.
The batsmen are going to be faced with an absolutely flat surface where the ball will come on to the bat nicely and some small outfields. A score of 180-185 may be considered par.
There is no doubt that Worcestershire has the stronger of the two batting lineups but Lancashire has the better bowling lineup. A flat batting wicket usually equalizes the batting strengths and favors the stronger bowling side so we will go with the home team in this game as well.
Back Lancashire Lightning to win.