Buttler can't quite serve up win at Aigburth; lancs skipper croft disappointed as leicestershire grab t20 victory.
Byline: TOM EVANS ECHO Reporter at Aigburth email@example.com @TOMEVANSECHO
HE crowd that packed into Aigburth got almost everything they came for.
TBig hitting from Lancs' Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone, some muscle from Leicestershire's veteran Aussie Mark Cosgrove and a contest that ebbed and flowed as much as a T20 game can.
Only the result didn't go right, as the Foxes' Colin Ackerman prevailed in a dramatic last over and Leicestershire won by three wickets.
Kyle Jarvis' first five balls, which began with the visitors needing just six runs, yielded just four singles and a run-out.
But the sixth disappeared over the extra cover boundary and into the beer tent.
It was a disappointing end to the game, but in truth Lancashire got closer than they had any right to expect.
"We weren't quite there in all three disciplines," admitted skipper Steven Croft. "I thought we came back into the game very well, but we made some bad decisions at crucial times."
Cosgrove's 34 off 21 balls had made Lancs' 173 look 20 or 30 runs short, and the only way to apply the brakes was to take wickets.
They did - T20 debutant Danny Lamb took three and former Liverpool Competition spinner Stephen Parry two, as the early flurry of boundaries turned to singles on the lightning-quick outfield.
Ackerman played his shots and reached his 50, but when Tom Bailey ran in to bowl the final ball of the penultimate over, Leicestershire still needed 12 and the hosts were marginal favourites. Matthew Pillans smacked it over long-on for six, setting up the final act of a compelling afternoon.
Earlier, IPL star Buttler and recent England debutant Livingstone had made hay on the straw-coloured turf. Buttler's 39 off 21 balls included two sixes and two consecutive paddles over the keeper's head, while Livingstone pulled Clint McKay halfway to Garston on his way to 48 off 34 balls.
But Buttler holed out to deep cover before he could upgrade his innings from "entertaining cameo" to "match-winning score" and Livingstone was conned out of his crease by Callum Parkinson and stumped by New Zealand's Luke Ronchi.
Lancashire hadn't played a T20 at Aigburth since 2009, and Croft reckons the unfamiliar surroundings may have played a part in the late slump - his side hit only one boundary after the 13th over.
"Batting first, we weren't 100% sure what a good total was," he said. "We would have liked around 185 and we fell a bit short of that, we didn't have anyone set at the end.
"I still thought it was competitive and if we bowled well, we could have kept them down.
"We need to learn from the mistakes we've made - we're still a really good T20 side."
Nearly 4,000 people enjoyed the sunshine and the cricket; the most ever at Aigburth, thanks to the large temporary stand erected on one side of the ground.
Big hitting from Jos Buttler couldn't prevent Lancashire Lightning from going down to defeat yesterday
Lancashire Lightning's Arron Lilley batting during the NatWest T20 Blast at Aigburth yesterday simon pendrigh