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PREVIEW: Lightning v Vikings

— 23 July 2013

Joe Sayers is ready and raring to go ahead of what could be his first taste of a Roses Twenty20 clash tomorrow night.

Ahead of the Friends Life t20 North Division fixture with Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford in front of the TV cameras, the left-handed opening batsman says he has been given a new lease of life by first-team coach Jason Gillespie.

Gillespie has encouraged the 29-year-old to go and “strike the ball” in all forms of the game, not just Twenty20.

And there have been signs that the Oxford University graduate is on the right path having scored 28 off 23 balls and 38 off 30 in two of four 20-over matches this summer against Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

Sayers has made a quarter of his 16 career Twenty20 appearances this season, despite debuting in this format eight years ago.

He has never played in the white hot atmosphere of a Roses match in this format, but insists it will hold no surprises to him.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be in that final XI. I feel like I’ve played reasonably well in Twenty20 cricket and have got the side off to some decent starts.

“It’s just the way it’s fallen. I’ve been part of a squad on a number of occasions, so I’m no stranger to the atmosphere or the crowd size. It’s the same old game with the same old challenges. Hopefully we can come out on top.

“I feel like my game’s moving forward. I’d like to go on and make a match-winning score. But there are encouraging signs, and there’s a fair bit of T20 cricket left in this competition to make those improvements and put that score on the board.

“Dizzy’s full of belief and confidence in my ability to go and strike the ball. He’s been really encouraging me to play that way in all forms of the game and go and show an intent to score. I’m really enjoying it. It’s quite liberating really. 

“I’ve done a lot of work over the years on my technique, and I’m confident there’s a good foundation there to just go and strike the ball.

“He’s basically said that he’s right behind me to go and redefine myself as a player in that way. We’re all fully confident that those skills are in my locker, now it’s about me backing myself to go and use them against the best bowlers in the country.

“I’m quite excited about the opportunity to be honest. Hopefully I can take that into 40-over cricket later in the summer and into the four-day stuff as well.”

Having tied with Yorkshire at Headingley earlier this month, Lancashire have gone on a three-match winning streak to put themselves in pole position for a quarter-final place. Unfortunately, however, Yorkshire have it all to do.

Even if they win their last three North Division matches, it still may not be enough to qualify for the last eight. 

But one thing can be assured, the Vikings will give it their best shot.

Sayers added: “T20 cricket’s about committing to plan and doing so without fear. That’s the challenge that’s in front of us now. It’s nice and simple. We’ve just got to back ourselves to commit to that plan and see where it gets us.”


Gary Ballance, Jack Brooks, Daniel Hodgson (wk) , Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Liam Plunkett, Richard Pyrah, Azeem Rafiq ©, Adil Rashid, Joe Sayers, Ryan Sideobottom, Iain Wardlaw

 Andrew Gale is rested due to injury.