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4th Quarter-Final, Canterbury, August 15, 2015, NatWest t20 Blast
(20 ov, T:143) 142/6

Lancashire won (lost fewer wickets)

Player Of The Match
53 (37) & 2 catches

Lancashire hope to end bleak run

The county that seemed to own limited-overs trophies in the late 20th century has only the 2003 National League Division Two trophy to show for its efforts this millennium

Paul Edwards
Paul Edwards
Jos Buttler in action for Lancashire in the NatWest Blast 2014

Could Jos Buttler be the man to end Lancashire's T20 wait?  •  Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Quarter-finals: nine
Semi-finals: five
Finalists: two
Winners: we don't mention that
Lancashire's record in the Twenty20 cup since its inception in 2003 may not feature too prominently in Ashley Giles's team talk prior to this Saturday's quarter-final at Canterbury. The county that seemed to own limited-overs trophies in the late 20th century has only the 2003 National League Division Two trophy to show for its efforts this millennium. It is almost surprising that Lanky's victory in the 2004 mascots' race does not appear on the Old Trafford honours board.
They have got close. Of course, they have. That makes it worse. Lancashire have attended five Finals Days and even contested a couple of finals but they have never yet been able to brandish the trophy and head off into Birmingham, their glasses overflowing with joy. Something has always got in the way. This is the county that once picked VVS Laxman for a bowl-out.
So there was something gloomily appropriate about Jos Buttler turning up at Old Trafford on Thursday morning and declaring: "This is a huge club and should be expecting to win trophies. My record at Finals Day is very poor, so I would love to go back and have another crack. I have lost a few finals, too."
Fresh from watching Mark Wood ride an imaginary horse around Trent Bridge, Buttler has been released by the ECB to play for the county that has made a speciality of emulating Devon Loch.
For all that he spends most of his time playing for England, Buttler remains committed to the Lancastrian cause and he fully understood the pleasure his 35-ball 71 in the short-form Roses match at Headingley brought to people west of the Pennines.
He is aware that Lancashire have won more domestic T20 matches than any other county and he also knows that such things count for very little if the trains from New Street to Piccadilly on the Sunday after Finals' Day are filled with supporters glumly wondering what the hell went wrong this time.
"There is a very strong pedigree of T20 cricket in this side, so we would be expecting challenge every year," he said. "But it is a hard competition to win. It isn't about winning most games, it is about winning the finals. They are the games you need to perform in."
"Er, yes, Jos, we know," those disappointed homebound fans might reply.
Paradoxically, if there is anything that might encourage Lancashire supporters making the long trek to Canterbury on Saturday, it is that Lancashire's performances have not been particularly impressive this season and their qualification for the last eight was not secured until it hosed down at Worcester and Leicester one July evening, preventing play in many of the final group matches.
Instead of securing a home quarter-final with a squad that 12 months ago included Andrew Flintoff, Junaid Khan and Kabir Ali, Lancashire squeezed into the last eight having won seven and lost six of their group games with a side featuring Liam Livingstone, Karl Brown and Arron Lilley.
Indeed, the team was changed quite frequently in the early weeks of the T20 campaign before Giles and his inspirational skipper Steven Croft settled on their best line-up. Kent are probably favourites to win Saturday's game and quite as many people are debating the qualities of Sam Billings as are discussing the talent of Buttler.
But maybe coming up on the blind side of the Blast for once will do Lancashire no harm at all. If Livingstone and Lilley can find their best games at Canterbury and - dare Lancashire fans even think it? - Edgbaston, quite enough folk will be aware of them on the morning of August 30.
The mood in those trains would then be very different. First, though, Ashley Giles will no doubt insist, there's Kent.

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