Lancashire joy at T20 glory

Lancashire captain Steven Croft lifts the NatWest T20 Blast trophy
Lancashire captain Steven Croft lifts the NatWest T20 Blast trophy
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Jubilant head coach Ashley Giles believes Lancashire’s overdue victory in the NatWest T20 Blast will not be a one-off success.

The Lightning had been to the competition’s Finals Day on six occasions but had never gone all the way, and their defeat to Birmingham Bears last year at Edgbaston proved particularly painful.

But they laid their demons to rest at the same venue on Saturday night, beating 2013 champions Northamptonshire Steelbacks by 13 runs to clinch their first limited-overs trophy in 16 years.

Red Rose head coach Giles paid tribute to his players and thinks it is merely the start of things to come.

“It’s a fantastic night,” Giles said on Sky Sports Ashes. “I’m just over the moon for the boys. They’ve worked so hard. It’s been a battling sort of campaign, but they got there in the end.

“We’ve got a really good group around us, so I think for the future things bode well. We’ve got a good group of young lads.”

Lancashire openers Ashwell Prince and Alex Davies put on 77 for the opening wicket, the latter top-scoring with 47, which under-pinned a total of 166 for seven.

James Faulkner removed Northants openers Richard Levi and David Willey, the star of the Steelbacks’ win two years ago, and it was always an uphill road for them from there, despite a memorable cameo from Shahid Afridi, who cracked a booming six over midwicket in his 26.

Gavin Griffiths, 21, who had made his T20 debut in Lancashire’s semi-final win over Hampshire, accounted for the Pakistan all-rounder and bowled the two of the final three overs to seal the Lightning’s win.

“Gavin Griffiths made his debut in the semi-final and to hold his nerve like that for two overs was just brilliant,” Giles added.

“(Faulkner has) a huge impact on the whole team. He’s been a pleasure to have around. His skills are undoubted and he loves these big occasions - he just steps up and gets on with it.”

Lancashire’s Blackpool born and bred captain Steven Croft admitted their success had been a long time coming, with the club’s last one-day trophy win coming in 1999 in the now defunct CGU National League.

“I’ve been playing for 10 seasons, I’m just glad we got over the line,” he said. “We’ve been playing some great Twenty20 cricket, we’ve won the most games without winning it, so it’s a big pleasure to win it.

“We’ve had good one-day sides (since 1999) so it’s a bit frustrating we haven’t won a trophy. Hopefully this can get something started.”

Opening batsman Davies, who won man of the match for his knock, was delighted the Lightning were able to end their hurt in the competition.

“I think some of the boys have been here six times now and it’s the first time they’ve managed to get over the line, so I’m so happy for them. Just can’t believe it really,” he said.

“Without being too cheesy, it’s probably the best day of my career so far.”