Lancashire still seeking 'top gear' in T20 after back-to-back defeats admits Blackpool's Steven Croft
Steven Croft admits Lancashire “haven’t hit top gear yet” in the Vitality Blast after back-to-back defeats over the weekend.
At least Lightning were much-improved at high-flying Nottinghamshire Outlaws on Saturday, losing by seven runs, after a disappointing seven-wicket defeat by bottom club Northamptonshire Steelbacks the previous evening.
Blackpool’s Croft was their top scorer at Trent Bridge with 41 and said: “It was a good game at a tough place to come and play cricket.
“You don’t like losing but we were aggressive with bat and ball and fielded well.
“So although we lost, it was better – the performance against Northants wasn’t what we wanted.”
Alex Hales hit his fifth T20 century for the Outlaws – an unbeaten 101 from 66 balls, with 12 fours and four sixes
And Croft added: “The difference between the teams was Alex Hales really. In T20 you don’t usually get someone staying around and he kept the board ticking all the way through, which was something we didn’t have.
“We haven’t hit top gear yet and there is obviously room for improvement, but today we were brave all the way through and if we keep putting in performances like that we can turn it round.”
Hales’ performance was all the more outstanding given then only Steven Mullaney (25) was able to offer sustained support in an Outlaws total of 173 for six.
Alex Davies made 39 and Luke Wood an unbeaten 33 to keep Lightning in contention but scoring 17 off the last over proved too much, off-spinner Matt Carter taking three for 17.
Put in, Nottinghamshire chalked up 58 in the Powerplay, having lost Joe Clarke to a catch at mid-off before Sol Budinger was run out as Hales chanced a single to backward point.
Ben Duckett miscued a reverse sweep to Tom Hartley but Hales cleared the rope off Matt Parkinson before completing his 50 with a freak four as he ducked a Luke Wood bouncer.
The Outlaws were 84 for three at halfway but Tom Moores found Davies at mid-off and they lost another big hitter as Samit Patel top-edged to wide mid-off.
Hales paused to check on the health of a spectator who got in the way of his second six before sweeping Parkinson for his third maximum.
Mullaney finally provided some assistance, he and Hales adding 69 from 35 balls.
Hales reached three figures when his fourth six soared over wide long-on before Mullaney was caught at long-off.
Carter bowled Finn Allen with his fourth ball in Lightning’s reply and dismissed Davies with his ninth as Clarke took a catch balancing on one leg to stay inside the boundary.
Between times Davies hit five sixes in a blistering 39 off 15 balls as he and Keaton Jennings added 52 in 23.
Lightning, 60 for two after six, saw Dane Vilas go leg before to Mullaney and Jennings caught and bowled by a diving Calvin Harrison, then Rob Jones was lbw going down the track to Carter.
After Lamb was run out, the visitors needed 58 from 36 balls but had only four wickets in hand.
Croft was dropped by Patel at backward point on 20 and went on to add 52 with Wood to give Lightning a chance.
But when Croft went for a scoop against Jake Ball, Patel this time made no mistake at short third man.
Lancashire, who stand fifth in their group after three wins from nine games, resume T20 action at home to Worcestershire Rapids on Thursday. Notts are second to Yorkshire in the table.
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