Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Buttler's assault sweeps Lancashire to victory

Lancashire 200 for 3 (Brown 62*, Buttler 57) beat Worcestershire 198 (Cox 44, Whiteley 38) by seven wickets

The quintessential English cricket ground, where misty-eyed romantics still wake from their afternoon nods expecting to be classically entertained by Tom Graveney or Basil D'Oliveira, witnessed the game in its breathless 21st century glory as Jos Buttler dashed off another modern masterpiece, setting two records as he did - despite suffering a worrying injury to his left thumb.

The latterday superhero, who has practised his version of batting to the extent that the ramp shot is almost as natural to him as the cover drive was to those exalted icons of gentler days, set up an overdue Lancashire victory by going in first and scoring 57 off 22 balls, an innings that included the county's fastest T20 half-century, from just 20 deliveries.

By the time he was out, at 98-1 in the sixth over, Lancashire had also surpassed the record for runs scored in the powerplay overs in T20 cricket in England, overtaking the 96 by the Sri Lankans in a match against Sussex in 2014. The world record stands at 100, held by Chennai Super Kings against Kings XI Punjab in the IPL, also in 2014.

What's more, he did it in defiance of the pain of an injury to his left thumb suffered while keeping wicket. He batted after taking painkillers but was in some discomfort and Lancashire are keeping their fingers crossed it will not be revealed as broken when he undergoes an x-ray.

"We'll get it x-rayed and see where he is - it's not ideal," Lancashire head coach Ashley Giles said. "He did make comment that he doesn't use his top hand anyway!

"I don't want to speculate (on how bad it is) but it's a nasty knock. Once we get it x-rayed, we'll know."

The boundary at New Road was ridiculously short - just 52 metres on the cathedral side - yet it was an extraordinary performance nonetheless. Of his four sixes, two went out of the ground - or at least the first circle of trees -one over backward point off the front foot and the other was an authentic ramp.

At the height of its ferocity, Buttler's assault yielded 40 runs from eight balls bowled at him by the tremulous Matt Henry and Kyle Abbott - both Test match bowlers, don't forget - before Abbott surprised the crowd, and himself probably, by having the last word with a yorker. By then, Daryl Mitchell, the Worcestershire captain, was regretting the hard chance he missed at short cover when Buttler was on 16.

By that stage, Worcestershire's 198 looked a total well within reach as Lancashire, the NatWest T20 Blast champions but with work to do to quality for this year's finals, sought to re-energise their campaign.

What followed felt unavoidably pedestrian compared with the thrills of Buttler's pyrotechnics yet there was another quality innings still to come as Karl Brown's unbeaten 62 from 40 balls helped Lancashire home with 11 balls to spare, captain Steven Croft hitting the winning boundary.

It was difficult not to focus on Buttler, however. "To strike some of those balls that he did there, there's not many, if any, in world cricket who can do that," Giles enthused.

"He now opens the batting as well. What doesn't he do? I asked him on the way down if he wanted to do it. He's done it for England in the week, so who are we to stop him?

"He can basically pick where he wants to bat. He's just high, high quality."

Having been put in, Worcestershire would have been more than satisfied with their position after six overs, in which they had already taken advantage of the short boundary by putting 60 runs on the boards for the loss of two wickets, although Tom Kohler-Cadmore was guilty of being a little too eager, wasting his flying start somewhat when he followed his second six with a rather wild attempt at another and paying the price.

The innings lost some momentum in the middle overs but accelerating rapidly between overs 15 and 19 when 78 were added, including 26 off one Stephen Parry over by Ben Cox and 20 off George Edwards by Ross Whiteley.

Edwards, one of Lancashire's unlikely heroes after being given his debut on T20 finals day last year, came back well with three wickets in four balls in the last over, putting a vital brake on Worcestershire's scoring.

"We just need to keep winning now," Giles said. "It's been fits and starts throughout the competition. We've beaten this side twice, and they are a really good T20 side, but we've lost games we feel we should have won.

"I said to the guys before the game 'It's a knockout now and we've got to play as if it's last 16'."

  • Buttler's assault sweeps Lancashire to victory

    Jos Buttler overcame a painful blow to his left hand to smash a 20 ball half century as holders Lancashire Lightning boosted their NatWest T20 Blast qualification hopes with a seven wicket win o

  • Buttler's assault sweeps Lancashire to victory

    Jos Buttler overcame a painful blow to his left hand to smash a 20 ball half century as holders Lancashire Lightning boosted their NatWest T20 Blast qualification hopes with a seven wicket win o

Lancashire 2nd innings Partnerships

1st94AN PetersenJC Buttler
2nd21AN PetersenKR Brown
3rd17KR BrownLS Livingstone
4th68SJ CroftKR Brown