Lancashire 149 for 5 (Petersen 68) beat Worcestershire 53 (Parry 5-13, Buck 3-12) by 96 runs
"Democracy," wrote HL Mencken, "is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." A modern sensibility might recoil from the aphorism's vulgar reference but Mencken's sardonic wit has its applications. To judge from their roars many in the crowd at a T20 match show up because "what they want" is to see cricket balls hit "good and hard" and long and often.
Yet the spectators' appreciation of the skills on show at a short-form game is becoming ever more sophisticated. This was particularly fortunate at Old Trafford on Friday evening because a mere eight fours were struck in a quite bizarre contest which lasted 33.5 overs. And even those statistics do not do justice to the full lunacy of Lancashire Lightning's 96-run win over Worcestershire Rapids.
For while the home side batted their full allocation to make 149 for 5 with Alviro Petersen's unbeaten 68 representing his first T20 half-century for Lancashire, Daryl Mitchell's men were hustled out in 83 legitimate deliveries for a paltry 53, their lowest short-form score. It was Lancashire's second biggest victory in this format.
Moreover, slow left-armer Stephen Parry returned his county's best T20 bowling figures of 5 for 13, taking three wickets in four balls as the Rapids' later batsmen made lemmings seem cautious. Three were caught in the deep and Ed Barnard was the last man to go, attempting to reverse sweep Arron Lilley. Jack Shantry ran out of partners yet again. There were tears before bedtime across the Malverns.
Yet there was also interesting strategy behind the remarkable facts of the game. Steve Rhodes, Worcestershire's director of cricket, did not spare his top order batsmen from criticism after the game but he also accepted that he and probably by inference his skipper, Mitchell, too, had erred both in not playing another slow bowler and in not opting to bat when they won the toss.
"I sat there watching it and thinking we've done this wrong, we should have batted first," said the admirably candid Rhodes. "But we all made mistakes and that was a mistake. We didn't read the pitch as well as we could. We thought it looked dry and had the potential to take spin and we did think about changing our side but we didn't and that was a mistake. But let's take nothing away from Lancashire, they are the current T20 champions and they outbowled, outbatted and outfielded us in every respect. The disappointing thing for me was the way we keeled over."
That rapid subsidence began with the first ball of Worcestershire's innings when Nathan Buck had Tom Kohler-Cadmore caught at the wicket after he apparently gloved a leg side catch to Tom Moores, who was playing his first game of county cricket after agreeing his one-month loan spell from Nottinghamshire.
Moores later added another leg side catch and, indeed, a leg side stumping off Parry to his tally of victims. He was busy and competent and so must think the county game a fine way to spend your time. The first batsman he removed was not so cheery. It was confirmed that Kohler-Cadmore really didn't think he'd gloved the ball. So KC was hardly a member of the sunshine band as he trooped off.
That wicket began a slide which only gathered pace. Bowling with speed and accuracy and extracting good lift from the Old Trafford wicket, Buck also removed both Mitchell and Joe Clarke in a three-over spell which cost 12 runs. Then Parry more or less took over, bouncing to the wicket with good rhythm and taking wickets with the gleeful delight of a man who keeps feeding a fruit machine which is stuck on three triple bars. Worcestershire hit three fours in their innings and only Brett D'Oliveira got to double figures. The Worcestershire boys were, as they say, not that happy.
Yet Lancashire's innings had hardly been a run-stuffed idyll. Petersen's innings included a four and a couple of sixes and Liam Livingstone deposited successive balls from Barnard over the ropes before falling leg before to D'Oliveira for 28. All the Worcestershire seamers stuck to tight lines and there was plenty of debate in the mid-innings break as to the match-winning merit of 149 for 5. Such discussions were stilled early in the second half of the contest.