Derbyshire Falcons have named a 14-man squad to face Lancashire Lightning to The 3aaa County Ground for the opening match of the Vitality Blast on Friday 6 July.
After guiding the Falcons to their best finish since 2005 last year, John Wright returns to lead Derbyshire again for this summer’s Vitality Blast.
Matt Critchley is expected to open the batting again after impressing at the top of the order in last year’s competition. The 21-year old has been moved up the order for the shorter format and he aims to kick-start Derbyshire’s innings from the front.
Wayne Madsen continues in the middle order as he looks to defend his Twenty20 Most Valuable Player title. Madsen led the Falcons last year with 526 runs at an average of 47.81 with a strike rate of over 145, while he also chipped in with 13 wickets.
Derbyshire are expected to hand debuts to Lockie Ferguson and Wahab Riaz. The former is an explosive bowler who has been clocked at over 95mph and has also played international cricket for New Zealand.
Pakistan international Riaz has become a Twenty20 specialist in recent years with short format experience all over the globe. In twenty-over cricket, he has taken 197 wickets in 167 matches at an impressive average of 21.22.
Following their impressive form for the Derbyshire Second XI, all-rounders Anuj Dal and Matt McKiernan have been added to the 14-man squad for the home match against Lancashire Lightning.
26. Ben Slater
20. Matt Critchley
6. Calum MacLeod
77. Wayne Madsen
18. Alex Hughes
14. Gary Wilson
11. Daryn Smit
65. Anuj Dal
21. Matt McKiernan
47. Wahab Riaz
7. Hardus Viljoen
69. Lockie Ferguson
50. Safyaan Sharif
41. Ravi Rampaul
2015 Twenty20 Blast winners Lancashire Lightning arrive at The 3aaa County Ground hoping for another strong Twenty20 campaign this summer.
Liam Livingstone is set to lead Lancashire for the first time in Twenty20 cricket, following his impressive form for the England Lions.
The 24-year old has already shown his explosive ability this year, averaging over 60 in the Royal London One-Day Cup while he also offers a reliable spin option with the ball.
Keaton Jennings is likely to support Livingstone at the top of the order, looking to continue his fine form into the shorter format after the England star recently scored 232 runs in a first-class match against Worcestershire.
Lancashire Lightning have signed Australian duo James Faulkner and Joe Mennie for this summer’s Vitality Blast. Faulkner returns after spearheading Lancashire’s title success in 2015 as he was joint leading wicket-taker with 25.
Fast bowler Mennie joins compatriot Faulkner in the bowling attack, after already taking eight wickets during the Royal London One-Day Cup campaign, with best figures of 3-56.
Matt Parkinson returns to Lancashire from England Lions duty alongside Livingstone, after impressing in all formats again this year. Despite Lancashire failing to qualify for the knockout stages, the leg-spinner was the competition’s leading wicket taker in the one-day cup with 18.
Lightning Squad: Liam Livingstone (c), Karl Brown, Jordan Clark, Steven Croft, Alex Davies, James Faulkner, Keaton Jennings, Toby Lester, Arron Lilley, Joe Mennie, Graham Onions, Matt Parkinson, Stephen Parry, Dane Vilas.
Lockie Ferguson is relishing the opportunity to bowl on the quick and bouncy wickets at The 3aaa County Ground ahead of the Vitality Blast opening fixture against Lancashire Lightning.
The New Zealand international offers raw pace to the bowling attack and has already tasted T20 international action, taking 3-32 on debut.
Ferguson is excited to do well for the Falcons, and can’t wait to get going in Derbyshire’s Vitality Blast opener on Friday 6 July alongside fellow fast bowlers Hardus Viljoen and Wahab Riaz.
“I’m super excited. It’s always been a dream of mine to come and play county cricket,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have John Wright a fellow Kiwi who was keen to sign me.
“I had a bit of a bowl on Monday out on the wicket and it looked bouncy so it should be a lot of fun. I play at Eden Park at home and the dimensions of the ground and wicket, in terms of pace and carry, is pretty similar to Derby.
“We will want to put some fear into the batsmen with our attack. We also have Wahab and Hardus who bowl really quickly as well so it should be a lot of fun this summer.
“I had a quick bowl with the lads on Monday and they are all very welcoming. It’s a serious bowling attack and hopefully we can restrict teams. It will be good to see how we go on Friday.”
After the Falcons’ best twenty-over campaign last year, as Derbyshire recorded eight wins on the way to a first-ever quarter-final, Ferguson looks back on last year’s success.
“It’s always good to look back and see what the team did well last year,” Ferguson added. “I’m sure we will have plenty of chats this week to see why we were successful and how we can grow on that this year.
“We will take it game by game, as we do with any competition, and hopefully start with a win on Friday.
“Twenty20 is a great game. There is nothing better than a packed house and a crowd really getting behind you. From what I’ve heard about the Blast there will be lots of big crowds and a lot of noise and I’m looking forward to getting amongst it.”
Vitality Blast is back! Derbyshire Falcons host seven Twenty20 games this July and August. Purchase your tickets in advance and save from £4. Buy online or call 01332 388 101.