James Anderson does not expect to be available for Lancashire until the end of May at the earliest as he looks to prime himself for the English Test summer.

Anderson became the first fast bowler in history to reach 700 Test wickets last month, joining spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne in an exclusive club, in England’s 4-1 series loss in India.

As he wants to be firing on all cylinders for the first of England’s six Tests this summer, against the West Indies at Lord’s starting on July 10 – three weeks before his 42nd birthday – Anderson anticipates he will sit out the early part of the 2024 Vitality County Championship, which got under way on Friday.

He is set to miss at least the first five rounds and could also skip the visit of Warwickshire, beginning on May 24, although Lancashire’s next fixture after that is not until June 23 at Kent.

“With the Tests being in July, it’s tricky,” said Anderson. “It’ll probably be June before I play, or maybe the end of May.”

Anderson featured four times within the space of a month last year but then suffered a groin niggle which left him touch and go for the start of an Ashes series in which he had an underwhelming impact.

Anderson reducing his county commitments this term means the prospect of him playing alongside Nathan Lyon has receded after Cricket Australia scaled back the off-spinner’s availability for Lancashire.

The pair have been on opposite sides of the Ashes divide over the years but Lyon revealed they had lunch earlier this week and Anderson remains hopeful they can play together at least once or twice.

“It was nice to actually have a civil conversation with him,” added Anderson, speaking following the announcement that £35million will be invested into grassroots cricket.

“I think he plays seven out of the first nine games, so hopefully I’ll play one or two, either at the end of May or in June.”

Nathan Lyon admits the chance to bowl alongside Ashes rival James Anderson was part of the reason for his arrival in county cricket.

Lancashire pulled off a major coup by signing Australia’s record-breaking off-spinner on an overseas deal and, despite only touching down in the country on Tuesday, he goes straight into the squad for Friday’s curtain-raiser against defending champions Surrey.

Much has been made of the possibility of Lyon forging a mentor relationship with Tom Hartley, following the slow left-armer’s emergence for England this winter, but Lyon has revealed it was the chance to go into battle against an old adversary that really attracted him to Emirates Old Trafford.

Anderson, the most prolific seamer of all time, is currently resting up after his exertions in the five-match series against India but the prospect of two greats with a combined 1,230 wickets to their name is already being teased.

“That would be pretty amazing. I’d be lying if I said that opportunity coming around wasn’t a big part of the reason I signed,” he told BBC Radio Lancashire.

“He’s one of the greatest, if not the greatest, fast bowler to have played the game. I’ve had some incredible battles against him. I admire his skill, there’s nothing but respect from my end for what he’s been able to do for English cricket but also world cricket inspiring young boys and girls to play the game.

“If the opportunity comes around that I get to bowl in tandem with him and share a changing room with him it will be pretty special, so I’m looking forward to that.”

Lyon was initially brought in for the entire season, across all formats, but has seen his schedule cut to seven first-class games after a call was made by Cricket Australia over his workload management.

“It’s definitely not my call, that’s nature of the beast,” he said.

“CA have come over the top and said they wanted to manage me and hopefully extend my career. My hands are tied.”

Surrey wicketkeeper-batter Jamie Smith will relish the chance to take on Nathan Lyon in Friday’s season opener at Lancashire but is relaxed about his future international prospects.

Smith made his England bow in September when he appeared in two ODIs against Ireland after an excellent domestic campaign.

The 23-year-old has long been earmarked as a future international since he scored a century on his first-class debut in 2019 against an MCC attack which included Stuart Broad. Last year he turned potential into results.

 

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A tally of 736 red-ball runs helped Surrey to Vitality County Championship success and Smith is excited to begin the new campaign against a high-quality Lancashire line-up that should include Aussie spinner Lyon.

“Yeah, I think you have to (relish it) and with aspirations of playing Test cricket, you will come up against world class players anyway,” Smith told the PA news agency.

“There is always a little bit of analysis that goes into it and he’s played a lot. A few guys have played against him in the changing room, so I guess it is getting those experiences as well.

“We know he is a fantastic player. No one gets that many Test wickets (530) without being a fantastic player so you respect what he has done, but also play him like anyone else on the day.”

After Smith started the 2022 season with a maiden double ton at Gloucestershire but failed to back it up, he was determined to bring a level of consistency to his game last year.

What followed was two hundreds, which included a sensational 114 off 77 balls to help Surrey chase 501 at Kent, four fifties and an average of 40.88 with a 65.3 strike rate.

His success was not just limited to red-ball cricket either, with contributions with both the bat and gloves able to fire Surrey to Vitality Blast finals’ day and he also starred for Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred.

It earned Smith two England white-ball caps in September and his name is in the mix for a Test shot should Surrey team-mate Ben Foakes be discarded.

Smith added: “That was important to put a season together instead of a few scores. For me what was a big turning point was staying consistent with my approach.

“There are going to be low scores in there, but instead of panicking about it or changing the way you want to play, I stayed quite consistent with a positive style.

“It was obviously an incredible end to a fantastic summer and fantastic recognition to have that (England debut).

“No one can ever take it away from you that you have represented your country, no matter who it was against or in what capacity.

“It was a proud day for my family. They made a lot of sacrifices when I was growing up and still now, so it was an incredibly proud moment.

“When you get a taste of something like that, you obviously want to have it again knowing that it is probably not my time right now, with the guys they’ve got picked but if I keep chipping away and scoring runs you never know when the next one could come.

“If you are outscoring people in the County Championship or the Blast and putting in performances, winning games when it matters, scoring runs when it matters, then people will always take notice.”

England seamer Saqib Mahmood has revealed he considered taking a break from red-ball cricket after a second stress fracture in as many years threatened to derail his career.

A serious back injury struck him down soon after a promising debut Test tour of the West Indies in March 2022 and hit again at the start of last summer, when the problem reoccurred just as he was hoping to put his name in the Ashes frame.

During the long and lonely months of rehabilitation he told Lancashire he planned to step away from the first-class game this season and ease himself back in as a T20 specialist.

He has since banished the idea, enthused by the arrival of new head coach Dale Benkenstein and by his own love of the longer format, and although he will miss this week’s Vitality County Championship curtain-raiser he is working towards a full comeback in the next month.

“It’s quite overwhelming to think that two years of my career have just sort of gone. I don’t want to have a third year like that,” he said.

“Initially I didn’t want to play any red ball cricket at the start of this season. At the back end of last summer I had a chat to the guys here because I was nervous about my body.

“I was asking for a little bit of empathy from the guys. I just want to be on the park contributing, not on the sides. I don’t want to be chasing Test cricket at the start of the season, breaking down and then not be any good to anyone. I want to do it properly.

“We left it as a question mark and when Benky (Benkenstein) came in he sort of filled me with that excitement again – a new coach telling me how important I was.

“So you have more chats and you try to find a way of doing it in as safe a way as possible. I’ve gone from not wanting to play it this year to trying to get ready for it.”

While Lancashire certainly took Mahmood’s concerns seriously, those even closer to him were more sceptical that he would be able to commit exclusively to the limitations of the limited-overs game.

“My brother told me ‘I knew you’d never do that. No way would you would sit on the side watching the guys play’. That’s not who I am,” he admitted.

“I still watch Test cricket more than I watch white-ball cricket, I still focus on it. As soon as I’ve got a red ball in hand I really love the things that come with it: trying to work batters out, the craft of bowling, things I pride myself on.

“Even the short experience I had in Test cricket, I didn’t want to give that up. It might feel like I’ve put a tick in the box by playing Test cricket but I feel I’ve got more to give in that format.

“My mindset is just to be fit. If I stay fit and do the right things I like to think the England stuff should take care of itself. Last year I was really trying to push myself to get ready for the Ashes and in the end I did too much, too soon by trying to look for something that wasn’t quite there.

“I don’t expect to be bowling at 90mph tomorrow, ready to play in an England shirt, it’s a process.
Hopefully by the time I start I’ll peak at the right time.”

Fleetwood boss Charlie Adam was beaming with pride after a vital 4-2 victory over Lancashire rivals Wigan.

Bosun Lawal, on loan from Celtic, twice pulled Town level in the first half to cancel out goals from Stephen Humphrey and Thelo Aasgaard.

And further strikes from Gavin Kilkenny and Jayden Stockley, within seven second-half minutes, put the result beyond doubt to give Fleetwood’s survival hopes a welcome boost.

Adam said: “It’s the performance I’m happy with. We took the second-half performance from midweek at Port Vale to today. I thought the lads were magnificent, we dominated the ball and caused them real problems.

“We showed real character and that’s what we are going to need. At times the quality of play was really good.”

However, the 38-year-old was keen to remind everyone that consistency is key after the Cod Army’s first win in their last six games.

“Ultimately, it’s only three points and we don’t want to get too high on it, we go again next week,” Adam said.

“We are happy with the result but now it’s about getting that performance on a consistent basis. I want this club to expect to win football matches.

“Getting used to winning football matches is a good habit to have and this group of players are smelling that the performances are good and they are getting the results the performances deserve.”

A deflated Shaun Maloney defended his Wigan players despite their disappointing performance on the Fylde coast.

The Latics looked to be building momentum in the league after their midweek victory over Bolton but succumbed to the intensity of the hosts.

Maloney said: “Look, I can’t really criticise any of my players too much after what they gave me on Tuesday.

“But the levels were definitely lower today in some really key moments; when a tackle had to be made, when we had to defend our box, blocking shots, when we had to spring back.

“We spoke after the Bolton game, and some of our players, about a real desire and determination to win that game.

“Our levels didn’t live up to that game, although I can’t criticise the mentality.

“They gave me absolutely everything again today. It’s just in those key moments, our intensity wasn’t the same as it was in midweek.

“I was concerned before the game whether we could go again, that was my worry, that’s why I made the changes I did.

“I have to give Fleetwood lots of credit, they were better than us at the fundamental things and that’s why they won the game.”

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley was left frustrated after his side were forced to settle for a 3-3 draw in a thrilling Lancashire derby against Fleetwood.

Sonny Carey’s brilliant brace cancelled out early goals from Promise Omochere and Jack Marriott.

Shayne Lavery seemingly secured the bragging points for the Seasiders, but Marriott popped up with a dramatic last-gasp equaliser.

Critchley said: “It’s really difficult to know where to start because there are so many incidents in the game.

“My overriding feeling is that it’s two points dropped and it’s a game we should have won.

“I don’t know how many shots at goal we had, or chances that we created but it’s numerous and as the away team.

“At 3-2 we’ve got ourselves into a winning position after giving ourselves a mountain to climb first half.

“It’s a game we should see out. Even when they equalise we’ve still almost gone on to win the game.

“It’s a difficult one to sum up. We created chances. We constantly got into the final third in the first half and failed.

“We conceded two really poor goals, but if we keep conceding twos and threes it’s going to be difficult to win games of football.”

The Cod Army made a fast start and looked set to land a first Lancashire derby win for five years.

But they eventually had to come from behind to earn a point.

Boss Lee Johnson said: “The boys are disappointed and I’m disappointed.

“Ben Heneghan, to give an example, had told the lads we should have had nine points this week and instead we’ve got five, which is not a disaster.

“We’ve started a bit of an unbeaten run, but we need to deal with oppositions’ spells better.

“I thought there was a lot of character on the pitch, from both teams. And the fans really made it that derby atmosphere, and I love that.

“I want to see that against Exeter when we play them at home. We can create that with our spirit on the pitch and our spirit off the pitch.

“The spell that we conceded three goals, you ask whether they were fantastic or if we were poor. We felt we should have defended those much better.

“They threw caution to the wind, they had bright, busy players but we should have dealt with it better. We can coach it.

“We’ve started to score goals regularly which is really positive. It’s a sign that we’re improving, but it’s a sign we can’t get ahead of ourselves at anytime in any match and we need to stay focused.”

Zak Crawley’s 158 inspired Kent to 387 for four on the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division One game with Nottinghamshire.

The 25-year-old needed just 153 balls before being caught and bowled by Calvin Harrison as second-bottom Kent gave their survival hopes a boost.

By then Crawley had helped Kent to 248 for two while Daniel Bell-Drummond also hit 60 and skipper Jack Leaning an unbeaten 54 to put them in control.

Tom Bailey’s three for 24 ensured Lancashire had Middlesex 132 for eight as Sam Robson’s gritty 56 from 173 balls – spanning more than four hours – spared them from further embarrassment.

The visitors had fallen to 83 for six in the face of Lancashire’s rampant attack, with Will Williams and Luke Wood also claiming two wickets each.

Emilio Gay made 77 and Karun Nair 78 as Northamptonshire frustrated Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

Oliver Hannon-Dalby claimed three for 29 as rock-bottom Northamptonshire slipped to 24 for two but Gay and Nair helped them recover to 200 for five.

In Division Two, Yorkshire closed on 330 for three as Glamorgan’s slim promotion hopes took another dent.

Finlay Bean’s 93 and Shan Masood’s unbeaten 113 had Yorkshire firmly in charge.

Ollie Price’s career best 125 not out helped Gloucestershire to 333 for six against Derbyshire. He and captain Graeme van Buuren (78) put on a fifth-wicket stand of 157.

Sussex were all out for 262 against Leicestershire, with Fynn Hudson-Prentice top scoring with 65 as Matt Salisbury claimed five for 73.

In reply, Leicestershire lost Sol Budinger and Lewis Hill to finish the day on 68 for two, trailing by 194.

County Championship holders Surrey suffered their first home defeat in 19 first-class matches as Lancashire completed a 123-run victory in just 45 minutes on day four at the Kia Oval.

Will Williams picked up four for 13 in just 4.3 overs on the final morning as Surrey were routed for 84, while Tom Bailey finished with five for 48.

The pair took only 9.3 overs to claim Surrey’s last five second-innings wickets to end a run of first-class games at the Oval in which the Division One leaders have won 12 and drawn the other six.

Kent’s spinners finally overcame a late flourish from the Northamptonshire tail to wrap up an innings victory at Wantage Road and climb to eighth in the table.

Joe Denly claimed four wickets and Hamid Qadri three as the home side were bowled out for 369 despite an entertaining ninth-wicket stand of 70 between Ben Sanderson and Jack White.

In Division Two, a magnificent unbeaten century by Peter Handscomb led a successful rearguard action as Leicestershire secured a draw with leaders Durham.

The Australian wicketkeeper-batter finished on 136 not out before bad light ended the contest with the visitors two wickets away from victory with 10 overs left in the match.

Leicestershire, who moved up to second, ended the match on 259 for eight chasing 439, with Durham having earlier declared at 343 for four after Alex Lees (145) and David Bedingham (145 not out) had shared a 243-run stand for the third wicket.

Sussex’s last-wicket pairing of Oli Carter and Henry Shipley survived over 20 overs to frustrate Glamorgan and eke out a draw in Cardiff.

The visitors finished on 273 for nine, 85 runs behind, with Carter on 55 not out after being dropped from two difficult chances, and number 11 Shipley unbeaten on eight.

Worcestershire centurion Gareth Roderick and Ed Pollock batted through sizeable chunks of the final day to thwart Derbyshire’s push for their first victory of the campaign.

Roderick battled away for five-and-a-quarter hours to make 123, while Pollock played a knock based on determined defence to register 56 off 189 balls spanning nearly four hours.

Their efforts were largely responsible for defying the Derbyshire attack as only four wickets fell in the entire day, which started with the hosts resuming on 70 for two needing another 271 just to make their opponents bat again.

Gloucestershire all-rounder Ollie Price completed an excellent maiden first-team century during an otherwise low-key final day at Headingley as their clash with Yorkshire finished in a draw.

Price moved from 97 not out overnight to reach three figures in the day’s first over as the visitors were bowled out for 464 in reply to a first-innings 550 for nine.

He was last man out for 113 off 162 balls to loanee left-arm spinner Dan Moriarty, who finished with five for 139 on his Yorkshire debut.

The home side started their second innings with a lead of 86 and reached 200 for six in the 48th over when rain stopped play at 4.30pm.

Division One leaders Surrey mustered a nervy 70 for four in reply to Lancashire’s 274 during an intriguing opening day of LV= Insurance County Championship action at the Kia Oval.

Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Tom Latham and Ben Foakes each fell for the reigning champions in the final 20 overs of the day after Lancashire recovered from 119 for five thanks to a lower-order rally which included 56 from Phil Salt.

Four dismissals apiece for Jordan Clark and Sean Abbott looked to have secured first-day honours for Surrey but two wickets from Will Williams and one each for Tom Bailey and Jack Blatherwick turned the contest back towards the visitors.

At Chelmsford, Tom Westley and Dan Lawrence combined for a double-century stand which put Essex firmly in control against second-placed Warwickshire on 391 for seven.

Lawrence, who is on standby for England’s Ashes campaign, registered an immaculate 152 – his second century of the season – during five-and-a-half hours at the crease.

The third-wicket pair put on 227 in 59 overs until Westley dragged Ed Barnard to short midwicket to depart on 114 from 193 balls, while Lawrence was eventually removed by Dom Bess.

Nick Gubbins marked his first appearance against boyhood club Middlesex by grinding them down with an unbeaten 98 as he and centurion Liam Dawson wrestled control for Hampshire at 284 for four.

Gubbins batted for six hours and 262 balls on a dry and flat pitch, while Dawson added 111 not out in four hours.

The pair put on 190 to break a 100-year record for the fifth wicket for Hampshire against Middlesex, beating the 149 scored by Lord Tennyson and Tom Jameson in June 1923.

Brett Hutton claimed a five-wicket haul to help Nottinghamshire trail Somerset by just 18 runs following the opening day at Taunton.

The hosts managed only 163 all out after winning the toss before Ben Slater’s unbeaten 67 helped the visitors to 145 for four.

Kent’s Australia international Wes Agar claimed the second five-wicket haul of his first-class career to restrict bottom club Northamptonshire to a modest 237.

Rob Keogh hit 97 for the hosts, who closed with a lead of 127 runs after Tawanda Muyeye’s unbeaten half-century (58) and 48 not out from Daniel Bell-Drummond helped Kent to 110 for one in 26 overs.

Centuries from Ollie Robinson and Alex Lees put Division Two leaders Durham in a commanding position at 422 for four against third-placed Leicestershire at Grace Road.

Robinson (113 not out) shared an unbroken 221-run fifth-wicket partnership with Graham Clark, who is 15 away from a hundred of his own.

Leicestershire, who are without a head coach after Paul Nixon was placed on gardening leave, were on the back foot following a first-wicket stand of 145 from openers Lees (101) and Michael Jones (78).

Fin Bean and George Hill posted centuries of 114 and 101 respectively to help Yorkshire dominate against Gloucestershire at Headingley.

Opener Bean and Hill shared a stand of 153 for the fourth wicket as the hosts closed on 393 for six from 91 overs.

Anuj Dal took five wickets as bottom-placed Derbyshire put their injury problems in the bowling department behind them to bring about a Worcestershire collapse.

The hosts were dismissed for 237 in 83.3 overs at New Road before Derbyshire lost openers Harry Came and Luis Reece inside 10 overs to close on 32 for two.

Sussex trail Glamorgan by 177 runs with nine wickets remaining of their first innings.

Billy Root’s 66 was the mainstay of Glamorgan’s 242 all out as Sussex all-rounder Nathan McAndrew took four for 58, while off-spinner Jack Carson posted figures of three for 45.

England captain Jos Buttler struck a fine half-century to help Lancashire beat Vitality Blast North Group leaders Worcestershire by four wickets in Blackpool.

Opener Buttler hit 58 off 42 balls to record only his second fifty in 14 T20 innings as the hosts successfully chased down 178 at Stanley Park.

Steven Croft had been run out for 40 after he and Buttler fell in the space of three balls during the 15th over, but New Zealand all-rounder Daryl Mitchell hit a rapid 33 to end Lancashire’s four-game losing streak.

Worcestershire – who lost for the just the second time – had posted 177 for nine, with Adam Hose making 42 and Mitchell Santner a swift 57 as Mitchell took three for nine from his two overs.

In the South Group, leaders Somerset suffered a first defeat as Hampshire secured a five-run win at the Ageas Bowl.

Nathan Ellis produced two stunning death overs as Hampshire made it four wins on the bounce after James Vince hit 50 and an unbeaten 59 from Joe Weatherley helped the hosts post 178 for four.

In reply, Will Smeed cracked an exciting 52, with seven boundaries, and Tom Kohler-Cadmore made 43 to seemingly keep Somerset on track.

But Australian quick Ellis helped close out victory with some fine tight bowling in the 17th and 19th overs as Hampshire moved up to third.

A hat-trick from Sam Cook helped Essex beat Kent by four wickets in Canterbury.

Cook – who claimed four wickets in Tuesday’s home win over Sussex – struck in the fifth over, removing Tawanda Muyeye (10) swiftly followed by having Sam Billings caught behind and then trapping Jordan Cox lbw.

Kent recovered from 35 for four to post 150 for eight, with Joe Denly (39) a fourth wicket for Cook and Grant Stewart hitting four sixes in his 37 off 16.

After Essex openers Feroze Khushi and Dan Lawrence both fell for ducks in reply, Matt Critchley’s unbeaten 63 saw them home as Kent suffered a fifth consecutive Blast defeat.

An unbeaten half-century from Derbyshire captain Leus Du Plooy pushed the Falcons on to a six-wicket win over Birmingham at Edgbaston.

The hosts had posted 203 for seven, built on 79 not out from Sam Hain as Mattie McKiernan took three for 39 from his four overs.

Derbyshire – who had won just two Blast games so far – set about what was a club-record run chase through openers Luis Reece (57) and Haider Ali (48).

Du Plooy then came in to plunder an unbeaten 66 from just 25 balls – with five sixes and four boundaries – to see the Falcons home.

 

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At Sophia Gardens, Laurie Evans struck a magnificent 118 off 60 balls – including 12 boundaries and half-a-dozen sixes – as Surrey closed out a 65-run win over Glamorgan.

Sam Curran (66) and Will Jacks (46) were also among the runs as Surrey set their hosts a victory target of 237.

Glamorgan, though, could only reach 171 for eight, with opener Sam Northeast having made 76 while all-rounder Dan Douthwaite was unable to bat because of injury.

Dawid Malan starred while Jos Buttler endured frustration as Yorkshire claimed a 15-run victory over Lancashire in the Vitality Blast Roses clash at Headingley.

After Malan hit a superb 83 off 50 balls in the Vikings’ 195 for six, England colleague Buttler made just one in his first Lancashire appearance of the summer, caught at mid-off from the off-spin of Dom Bess seven balls into the Lightning’s pursuit.

They subsequently finished on 180 for eight, with Ben Mike and Dawid Wiese having each claimed two for 31.

Also in the North Group, a career-best unbeaten 109 by Wayne Madsen set up Derbyshire for a first win of the campaign at Leicestershire, who ran them close but fell three runs short of their target.

Madsen’s brilliant 61-ball innings, which contained 12 fours and four sixes, helped the Falcons post 189 for five after being put in, Tom Wood making 37 from 24 balls and Brooke Guest 25 not out from 20.

The Foxes, who have lost all of their opening four matches, put up a decent fight, with Colin Ackermann (59 not out) and Rehan Ahmed (28 not out) scoring 58 off the last 31 balls after Rishi Patel’s 44 – but it was not quite enough as they closed on 187 for five.

In the South Group, Essex thrashed Sussex by 25 runs at Hove with captain Simon Harmer taking a hat-trick.

Harmer struck with his first three balls after coming on in the third over as Essex easily defended a target of 164. After losing Ravi Bopara in the first over of their reply, the hosts then saw Harmer dismiss Tom Alsop, Shadab Khan and Michael Burgess to leave them at 15 for four with their chase effectively over before it had begun.

They ended up dismissed for 138 with eight balls unused, Harmer finishing with figures of four for 28.

Essex’s earlier 163 for seven featured 55 from Feroze Khushi, while Shadab took three wickets.

Luke Wood was one of the busiest cricketers on the planet this winter, but the seamer describes being back at home to kick off Lancashire’s Vitality Blast campaign as his “pride and joy”.

Wood has been all over the globe since finishing runner-up with the Lightning in last year’s competition, making his England debut in a historic tour of Pakistan, travelling to Australia as a reserve for the triumphant T20 World Cup and picking up franchise deals in the Big Bash, the UAE’s IL20 league and the Bangladesh Premier League.

It has been the most lucrative and demanding period of the 27-year-old’s career, with new experiences, new team-mates and new responsibilities to bear.

But on Saturday he will be lining up for the Red Rose against Derbyshire in Edgbaston’s ‘Blast Off’, a double-headed curtain-raiser for the white-ball season that also sees hosts Birmingham Bears take on Yorkshire.

“I’ve certainly been claiming a lot air miles. I’ve been busy, but I’m back home,” he told the PA news agency with a smile of satisfaction.

“Whenever I come back to play for Lancashire, that’s my pride and joy. This is where I earned those opportunities in the first place. After four busy months away, it’s back to reality. Being here, this is my job.

“But I’ve enjoyed that franchise circuit so much, it can only grow your game as a player. You talk about the captains, the coaches, the different ideas…you’re learning all the time.

“My international career might be limited so far but I’ve been able to play against that calibre of player regularly and I feel my game has come on so much.

“Being an overseas player is a big thing. The expectations are on you and the drive now is the same as when I’m in that overseas role. I pride myself on meeting the same expectations.”

Wood admits Lancashire are a side with some frustrations to work out, be it from last season’s finals day where they gave up a winning position to lose the title to Hampshire or this year’s record of five consecutive draws in the LV= Insurance County Championship.

“You can see as a club we are hungry for a win,” he added.

“There aren’t too many draws in T20 cricket thankfully and we want to get the ball rolling. Coming second last year has almost given us a bigger drive for the Blast because finishing runner-up feels the same as losing.

“It’s always disappointing to lose a final, but it gives you a bit of extra motivation. We felt like we were cruising for a long time but you know it’s never over in T20. Next time is for us, I hope.”

Derbyshire’s head coach Mickey Arthur is another man with unfinished business in the competition.

His side enjoyed a strong run in the North Group of last year’s Blast, but dropped the ball in their quarter-final against Somerset as they were rolled over for 74 chasing 266.

“We did fall off the rails in the quarter-final but we’re better for that experience,” Arthur told PA.

“It did leave a bad taste, but it’s easy to forget we won nine games in a row against some big teams. The guys have learned. You can’t go to a supermarket and and buy experience, you’ve got to go through it.

“Our recruitment has been good too and I really think we’ve got a side who can shake up a couple of teams.”

England bowler Craig Overton took umbrage at apparent criticism from Lancashire over Somerset’s non-declaration tactics as the sides’ LV= Insurance County Championship clash ended in a draw.

Somerset’s decision to carry on batting at Emirates Old Trafford despite their lead passing 300 in mid-afternoon on the final day of the Division One encounter provoked a sarcastic response from Lancashire’s official Twitter account.

Responding to one of Lancashire’s tweets after hands were shaken at 4:50pm, Overton wrote: “We came at you with a reasonable offer yesterday afternoon to make a game of it yet you declined.”

While James Rew compiled his second century of the match and finished on an unbeaten 118 and Kasey Aldridge claimed his maiden first-class hundred with 101 not out, the game had drifted by that point.

Lancashire, unable to call upon James Anderson because of a groin niggle, withdrew their first-choice attack in the afternoon session as batters Steven Croft and Dane Vilas shared the second new ball.

Lancashire used nine bowlers in total – including wicketkeeper George Bell, with Josh Bohannon taking the gloves – as Somerset finished on 398 for five to sit 433 ahead.

England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes took six catches as Surrey’s impressive attack inspired a nine-wicket victory over Middlesex at the Kia Oval.

Jordan Clark took four for 25, while there were three wickets for Sean Abbott and two for Gus Atkinson as Middlesex were all out for 240, with Foakes’ half-dozen catches a record in a first-class innings for Surrey against their London rivals.

Rory Burns was out for 14, but Dom Sibley (21no) and Ryan Patel (37no) helped Surrey ease to their 70-run target to help their side claim their third win of the season to stay top of the division.

Under-pressure England opener Zak Crawley curbed his attacking instincts and his half-century helped Kent avoid defeat against Hampshire at Canterbury.

Crawley amassed 56 off 133 balls before being stumped off Liam Dawson, while fellow opener Ben Compton’s 54 and an unbeaten 68 off 206 deliveries from Jack Leaning lifted Kent to 259 for four, still 18 runs behind but with Hampshire having given up hopes of forcing a win.

Durham extended their lead atop Division Two with a tense one-wicket victory over Yorkshire, with Brydon Carse hitting the winning runs despite batting with a runner because of a side injury.

Durham resumed at Chester-le-Street requiring 33 to win but with only two wickets in hand. Ben Raine (50no) and Matthew Potts (25) helped Durham close in on their target of 246, but the latter fell lbw to George Hill with just two more runs needed.

But Carse squirted his fourth ball away, calling Raine through for a couple as Durham got over the line to claim their third triumph of the campaign and leave Yorkshire still searching for their first win.

Leicestershire remain unbeaten despite being asked to follow-on by Sussex at Grace Road, with hundreds from Rishi Patel and Wiaan Mulder helping the hosts to a draw.

Patel (100) and Mulder (102no) ushered Leicestershire to 295 for six, having been asked to bat again the day before when they were all out for 270 in response to Sussex’s 430.

Derbyshire captain Leus du Plooy’s unbeaten 61 led the recovery from 28 for three to 166 for five as Gloucestershire settled for a draw at Derby.

England seamer James Anderson was a conspicuous absentee on the second morning of Lancashire’s LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Somerset, receiving treatment for a “minor issue”.

Anderson was in outstanding form on the opening day at Emirates Old Trafford, taking two for 16 from 14 metronomic overs, but left the field shortly before rain brought an early end to proceedings.

He did not emerge with his team-mates on Friday, with Lancashire confirming he was experiencing an undisclosed complaint.

A spokesperson said: “Jimmy is off the field with a minor issue, which is currently being assessed.”

Anderson, 40, is integral to England’s Ashes plans this summer, with bowling stocks already hit by fresh injuries to pace pair Jofra Archer and Olly Stone.

Archer has returned early from the Indian Premier League due to discomfort in his troublesome right elbow, while Stone faces several weeks on the sidelines after injuring his hamstring on duty for Nottinghamshire last week.

Anderson managed just four overs in the last home series against Australia, ruled out with a calf problem on the opening morning.

England begin their Test summer against Ireland at Lord’s, a four-day match starting on June 1, before the Ashes opener at Edgbaston on June 16.

James Anderson starred as Lancashire got off to a strong start against Somerset on a rain-affected first day of their LV= Insurance County Championship Division One clash at Emirates Old Trafford.

Anderson, playing his fourth consecutive four-day game for the Red Rose and his final match before the sole Test against Ireland, gave notice of his readiness for England duty with a brilliant eight-over opening spell during which he bowled five maidens, was hit for five runs and claimed the wickets of Steven Davies and Tom Abell.

Although Somerset had recovered from 12 for three to 109 for four by the time torrential rain ended play for the day, it was Anderson’s spell that will have England supporters hoping for brighter days with the Ashes beginning in just over a month.

Chris Rushworth continued his stunning start to his Warwickshire career with another four wickets as Essex’s batting imploded on a rain-affected opening day at Edgbaston.

Former Durham seamer Rushworth went into this game, his fifth for Warwickshire, with 22 wickets at 15.27 apiece and enhanced those figures further with four for 28 as Essex folded to 126 all out.

Rushworth delivered a triple-wicket maiden in the last over before tea to reduce Essex from a relatively healthy 76 for two to 76 for five. Olly Hannon-Dalby followed up in the final session with four for 21, taking him past 450 wickets in all formats.

Warwickshire then encountered turbulence of their own as they reached 17 for two at the close of a day which provided abundant drama and entertainment despite play not starting until 3pm due to rain.

James Fuller took five for 21 as Hampshire dominated the first day of their match with Kent at Canterbury.

Kyle Abbott also starred for the visitors, claiming three for 23, as they skittled Kent for just 95 before reaching 89 without loss at stumps.

Dan Worrall’s five-wicket haul helped Surrey claim the honours on day one of their match with local rivals Middlesex after the visitors collapsed to 209 all out.

A 152-run second wicket stand between Sam Robson and Pieter Malan, who both hit half-centuries, put the visitors in a position of control but they lost nine wickets for 43 runs after lunch. The hosts reached 21 without loss in reply.

Ricardo Vasconcelos and Saif Zaib shared a 50 partnership as hosts Northamptonshire reached 86 for two against Nottinghamshire before rain ended proceedings early.

In Division Two, Durham’s Matthew Potts continued his impressive campaign by taking four wickets to help bowl out Yorkshire for 254 at Chester-le-Street.

Captain Shan Masood, making his Yorkshire debut, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow failed to capitalise on starts, with Potts (four for 49) thriving. The hosts reached 42 for two in reply.

Michael Neser further stated his case for Australian selection this summer with a hugely impressive four-wicket haul for Glamorgan against visitors Worcestershire.

Neser, in partnership with Timm van der Gugten, ripped through the Worcestershire top order before James Harris claimed four wickets of his own as the visitors were bowled out for 109.

The Glamorgan top order also found batting challenging on a day where it swung and seamed throughout, moving to 177 for six with captain David Lloyd (48) leading the effort.

There was no action on day one of the second game of Australia batter Steve Smith’s three-match stint at Sussex. A wet outfield at Leicestershire did not help his preparations for his country’s World Test Championship final against India at the Oval on June 7 and the Ashes versus England, starting on June 16.

Rain meant the opening day of Derbyshire’s clash with visiting Gloucestershire was also washed out.

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