Great Dane says Lancs have bite for Trophy
LANCASHIRE skipper Dane Vilas insists his side will be going all-out to win the Bob Willis Trophy when the new four-day competition starts on August 1.
And he’s hoping the Red Rose side can replicate 2011, when Liverpool CC’s Aigburth home played a big part in their County Championship triumph.
The Red Rose county have three away games and two at home – one at Emirates Old Trafford and the other at Liverpool.
After starting with a trip to Leicestershire on the delayed opening day, they face Durham at Emirates Riverside, before hosting Nottinghamshire at Emirates Old Trafford. Lancashire then travel to Emerald Headingley to face Yorkshire before rounding off the group stage against Derbyshire at Liverpool.
The two best group winners from the North, South and Central groups will qualify for the five-day final, potentially at Lord’s at the end of September or start of October.
With Yorkshire the only other Division One side in the northern group, Vilas knows Lancashire are in with a real shot of making it.
Vilas said: “There’s not a better incentive than a final at Lord’s.
“That’s what everybody would be obviously gunning for, which I think is great.
“It’s good for the ECB that they’ve been able to set that up for us, and hopefully we can try to get there.”
Lancs have been training at Chester Boughton Hall in preparation for the delayed start to the domestic season, and will follow this week’s intrasquad match with a Roses friendly (if there is such a thing) at Headingley today and tomorrow.
The skipper said: “It’s gone really well. There’s only so much training you can do in the nets so it’s more about getting the bowlers’ workrates up and making sure that they get at least two good solid spells under their belts.
“That’s been the biggest concern, coming back from such a long period of time off and then getting straight into it.
“But also, a bit of competition out there in the middle was great. Everybody got exactly what we needed out of that.”
There will be no overseas players this year, and with James Anderson, Jos Buttler, Richard Gleeson, Liam Livingstone and Saq Mahmood, along with the injured Matt Parkinson, beckoned into England’s various biosecure bubbles, the schedule should offer opportunities for players on the fringes of the Lancs squad to impress.
Vilas said: “It’s great to have guys getting an England chance and pushing for those high honours and that’s what we want – but then also that creates headaches for us because you can’t rely on them too much.
“But it’s a good opportunity to see what we’ve got.
“And we’ve got some exciting youngsters coming through, which we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, and then we’re going to hopefully see a bit more of them at Headingley.”
The skipper said he was particularly impressed with the form of Ormskirk spinner Tom Hartley and wicketkeeper George Lavelle, along with Formby seamer George Burrows.
Lancashire were one of only two counties – Surrey being the other – who didn’t furlough their playing staff when lockdown hit.
Vilas hopes that will mean they can hit the ground running come August 1.
He said: “It’s been very frustrating at times, but obviously understandable with everything that’s going on in the world. At least we’re back to it now.
“We’ve had a good five or six weeks of practice, which has been great.”
Tom Hartley delivers for Lancashire and (left) Dane Vilas and George Lavelle in action for Ormskirk