Junaid can spark a Red Rose Blast bid
Karl Brown is hoping Lancashire will benefit from an improved Junaid Khan in this summer's T20 Blast, with the Pakistan ace set for his third Lightning debut on Friday.
Junaid, who Brown has described as “one of the best yorker bowlers in the world”, has missed the first two matches due to visa problems.
But the left-armer’s arrival in England is imminent – a little over a month after leaving with the Champions Trophy under his belt.
The 27-year-old overseas star was named in the ICC’s Team of the Tournament thanks to eight wickets from four matches.
His latest debut is expected to come in Friday’s 19,500 sold-out Roses clash with Yorkshire Vikings at Old Trafford (6.30pm).
“I think Junaid’s going to be a massive player for us this year,” said opening batsman Brown.
“We know what he brings, and it’s nice to have somebody back that’s played for us before. He’ll be part of the team straight away, which is great for everyone.
“He’s one of the best yorker bowlers in the world, and that’s massive towards the end in T20 cricket.
“If you know you’ve got a player like that in your side, you will win the odd game you probably shouldn’t do.
“You know how tight the games can be. A lot are won within the space of 10 runs. So to have someone like Junaid, who can take wickets up front or at the end, it makes a massive difference.”
Junaid has taken 31 wickets in 18 Blast matches for Lancashire across two seasons in 2011 and 2014, including a career best 4-12.
In 2011, he helped the Lightning reach Finals Day but could not play because he was touring Zimbabwe with Pakistan, where he made his Test debut.
“I can remember one game at Northants a few years ago when we were defending a small target (111 – Junaid took 2-12 in a three-run win), and he bowled one of the best spells I’ve ever seen,” said Brown, who is no fan of facing him in the nets.
“He’s just got a real belief in his game that when he stands at the top of his mark, he’s going to execute what he wants to do.
“It’s the trajectory he bowls. It’s just different because he isn’t as tall.
“Even if his yorkers aren’t right on the button, it’s still difficult to hit because he doesn’t get the bounce other bowlers get. That helps him.
“He’s been brilliant for us. If he’s anywhere near where he was the last two times, he’ll be great again.
“More international experience can only benefit him, and hopefully he comes even as an improved player. If he does, it will be unbelievable.”
Brown has scored 35 and four at the top of the order in Lancashire’s opening two matches this season - a win at Durham on Friday and defeat against Leicestershire at Liverpool on Sunday.
He has scored fifties in Roses wins against Yorkshire at Old Trafford in each of the last two seasons.
“It’s a game I always look forward to,” he added.
“I find it really easy to get up for and focus in that game.
“They’re big rivals, and I think that competitive edge comes out a bit more. But I’m sure it does for everybody else in both sides.
“It’s just a game I really enjoy playing in. And it’s always nice to get one over on the Yorkies. Everybody knows that!
“We’ll be looking to do it again.”