We are, much to my relief, nearing the end of our 2021 County Previews! With the White Rose to come on Tuesday, we're in Manchester today, to look at the hopes of the Lancashire this season...
What Happened Last Year?
It was an unspectacular 2020 for the Red Rose county, who finished 3rd in the North Group of the Bob Willis Trophy, with two wins, two draws, and a defeat.
In the second and third games, Lancashire dominated Durham and then Derbyshire, as they should expect themselves to.
However, the defeat in the opening game to Leicestershire was a disappointment, having allowed their opponents to chase 150 in 15.4 overs!
The draws came against Nottinghamshire (a slightly lucky one), and with Yorkshire (where rain was the winner).
Batting wise, Lancashire were mediocre, as despite seven individuals making fifties, no batter managed a century, despite a 94 for Josh Bohannon, and 90 for Dane Vilas.
With the ball, there were no five-fors, but Tom Bailey and Danny Lamb both took over 10 wickets in the campaign, with 13 at 21.69 (Bailey) and 12 at 16.91 (Lamb).
Key Player for 2021
Skipper Dane Vilas is one of the overseas players for Lancs this year, and after averaging 79.69 in their promotion season of 2019, but with only one fifty in the BWT, he'll be keen to return to form.
The South African keeper has played 161 first-class matches, and his invaluable experience has been a key tool for Lancs in recent seasons, where he has been a Kolpak. As we explored back in January, Brexit means the end of Kolpaks, but Vilas has been confirmed as the overseas player for 2021, which will be his fifth year for the county.
Bowling wise, Lancs have also picked up Jackson Bird, who will prove a good addition to the bowling line-up. As mentioned above, Bailey is a fine seamer, and Jack Blatherwick has been signed from Notts, but Bird offers international experience, which should boost their XI.
Lancashire have lots of players on the fringes of England in the white-ball format, be it young leggie Matt Parkinson, big-hitting Liam Livingstone, or reverse-swinging Saqib Mahmood.
However, my outside bet for a possible test chance is Luke Wood. The 25 year-old is a bowling all-rounder, formally of Notts, and while his stats are not brilliant, he swings the ball at pace, and is useful with the bat, as well as offering his left-arm angle. With England always interested in pacers, he may find himself in a squad sometime soon.
It's also worth watching out for Josh Bohannon, who is 23, and averages 41, with 984 runs in 28 innings, including an impressive average of 52.44 in 2019.
Target for this Year
Along with Jackson Bird and Dane Vilas, Lancs have made some exciting signings for the white-ball formats from overseas.
21 year-old Finn Allen has been signed for the Blast, after the young New Zealander hit some impressive recent t20 form. For the one-day format, Shreyas Iyer has been picked up. The young Indian is a phenomenal talent, although his injury in the first ODI has ruled him out of the IPL, meaning his Lancs deal may be in doubt.
However, the exciting signing for the Championship is the pick-up of Sussex's Luke Wells. At 30, England are unlikely to come calling, but with 18 first-class hundreds, he provides a helpful batting addition to the Lancs squad.
In group 3, Lancs will be facing up to Glamorgan, Kent, Northamptonshire, Sussex and Yorkshire.
While Yorks and Kent could prove tough opposition, Lancs will back themselves against some of the smaller counties in this group, and could challenge for top position.