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Exclusive Steven Croft column: Roses battle will be like an international

Alex Davies saw Lancashire home safely at Leicestershire Foxes
Alex Davies saw Lancashire home safely at Leicestershire Foxes

It was great to record a convincing win against Leicestershire on Wednesday, which now sets us up perfectly for today’s Roses clash.

Leicestershire isn’t the easiest place to go, so to get the win – our fourth in a row in the Twenty20 Blast – sets us up brilliantly as we’re now top of the Northern group.

They were 88-1 after 10 overs and looking like they might build a big total, but we stuck at it well and stayed calm.

They got off to a good start but the lads, especially the spinners, pegged it back for us and did a great job.

The ball was flying around a bit so we did well to reduce them to just 142.

Liam Livingstone did really well to get 4-17. He seemed to be involved in everything. He bowled well 
and was backed up by Matt Parkinson, another spinner, so it was an all-round good team performance.

We could have gone harder with the bat but opener Alex Davies played a responsible role to see us home, just as he has done on a few previous occasions. It was quite a mature knock.

There was no scurrying around, he took it on himself to get us home and he did just that as we reached the total with 20 balls to spare and eight wickets still in hand.

To get that fourth successive win is great, especially as it comes ahead of what is probably our biggest game of the season at Old Trafford today.

For the bigger picture, it’s all about getting out of the group and that’s the main thing for us. We want to get out of the group and have a quarter-final at home.

But whether we win our first 10 games or just scrape through, it’s all about getting out of the group. That’s the biggest challenge in T20 cricket, so hopefully we can do that sooner rather than later.

On a personal note, I was a bit disappointed not to get any action with the bat or ball on Wednesday. It’s a bit frustrating batting at seven or eight and not bowling, it’s a bit different to what I’m used to.

Hopefully I will get an opportunity and if one comes about, I need to grab it with both hands and show them what I am capable of. But as long as we’re winning, that’s the main thing.

Today’s game against Yorkshire will literally be our biggest game against them, as we’ve got the largest temporary stand we’ve ever had as they kept all the international 
seating there.

Someone said it’s going to be the biggest domestic game outside of London so it’s going to be really exciting. That shows you just how big the game is.

Plus, the international lads are back on each side as well, so we’ve got Jos Buttler and they’ve got Joe Root and Kane Williamson, so it’s going to be a great game.

It’s massive for us to have Jos back. It almost seems like a privilege to have him around, it’s a bit of a bonus.

He’s in great form so you’d expect him to come back and slot straight back into the side. He’s a great lad to go with, being a great player as well.

Meanwhile, England beat India in their one-day international at Headingley on Tuesday to wrap up a 2-1 series win.

We’re proving to be one of the best sides in the world at one-day cricket at the moment, so hopefully we can keep going.

With the World Cup in England next year, you’ve got to say we will be the favourites. If we keep racking up wins going into the tournament I think there will be more and more fear the further we go on.

Joe Root scored a second successive century and now we’ve got to face him today – which is nice!

He’s scored runs against us before but as a domestic player, he’s the sort of cricketer you want to be facing. You want to play against England’s best and possibly some of the world’s best because you want to see where you’re at.

For those who haven’t played international cricket, it’s probably the closest you’re ever going to get, with a full house at Old Trafford and an international line-up on both sides. It’s not going to be far from being an international fixture if I’m being honest.

Root’s century was his 13th for England at one-day level, which is the most of any Englishman past or present.

What makes him so special is that he can do it in all formats, whether it’s T20, one-day or Test matches.

He always seems to have a good plan and method to score runs and he’s consistent, which is exactly what you want.

Steven Croft is celebrating his testimonial year and was talking to Matt Scrafton