Great Dane says Lancs have bite for Tro­phy

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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.”

Nathan Stirk

Tom Hart­ley de­liv­ers for Lan­cashire and (left) Dane Vi­las and Ge­orge Lavelle in ac­tion for Orm­skirk

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