Lancashire CCC - Specsavers County Championship
A dogged half-century by Haseeb Hameed rescued Lancashire when their top of the table Specsavers County Championship clash with Essex finally got underway at Emirates Old Trafford.
The Red Rose opener batted through the day to make his highest score of the season with 85 not out to shore up the innings which had tottered on 66-5 at one point as the visitor’s attack made the most of the seaming and swinging conditions that persisted throughout an overcast day.
It was tough going but Hameed dealt with everything that came his way, getting great support from Jordan Clark and Stephen Parry, to steer Lancashire to 222-8 at the close.
“It was a good fightback,” agreed Assistant Coach Mark Chilton.
“ It was an obvious bowl-first with the wicket having been under the cover for a few days and also the cloud cover today.
“We knew it would be challenging upfront, but to still be batting at the end of the day proves we have done pretty well for ourselves.
“For the first hour there was a lot happening.
“We have spoken about how to approach games in conditions like this. We want players to have confidence to play their way. We saw Haseeb dig in and other players take the ball on and we saw some important partnerships.
“The way we are now, we are pretty happy with things.”
The toss was uncontested with Essex opting to bowl first on the second morning, after the first day had been entirely lost to rain.
Lancashire made one change to the side that defeated Warwickshire last week with Tom Bailey replacing Matt Parkinson, but it was the batsmen who were in the firing line when play finally started at 11.45am following further rain during the morning.
Alex Davies edged the third ball of the day off Jamie Porter to Simon Harmer at second slip, Liam Livingstone was bowled for 7 when Sam Cook nipped one back sharply and Dane Vilas was lbw for 7 to Porter to leave Lancashire with early problems on 22-3 in the 11th over.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul was quickly into his stride with a couple of boundaries plus a ‘five’ courtesy of four overthrows to steady matters with the assistance of Hameed and the pair reached lunch on 45-3.
But Red Rose woes increased when Chanderpaul fell in the second over of the afternoon, gloving an attempted pull off Paul Walter to wicketkeeper James Foster for 23.
Jos Buttler hit three crisply struck boundaries but then edged Porter to Dan Lawrence who took a good low catch at gully for 13, and Ryan McLaren made a useful 22 before inside edging a drive off Harmer onto his stumps to leave Lancashire struggling on 92-6.
Clark combined well with Hameed as the pair battled back either side of tea to post a 53-run partnership for the seventh wicket.
Clark departed for 20, and was a touch unlucky when a Cook found a bit of extra bounce and the edge of Clark’s bat, the ball then looping up off wicketkeeper Foster’s pads to Lawrence at gully.
But Parry produced a fine innings of 35 in support of Hameed’s 315-minute effort to continue the fightback.
The pair added 77 in 22 overs for the eighth wicket, Parry striking some eye catching drives along with an audacious reverse-swept four off Harmer as the innings prospered.
Parry fell to the first delivery with the new ball after edging Porter (4-54) to Foster before the umpires took the players off for bad light five balls later to end the day.
But it was Hameed who took the honours with an innings that was initially one of great patience and resilience as wickets fell at the other end, exemplified by the opener taking 54 balls to reach 10 and a further 54 to add one further run before expanding his innings during the late afternoon.
He took two fours in same over from Harmer, and also drove the off spinner for a further boundary in reaching his half-century from 188 balls.
The increasingly confident Hameed started to play his shots and score more freely after that, lofting Harmer into the seats at long-on for six and his next 35 runs came at a relatively quick rate, taking only 40 balls.
“It is great to see Haseeb still batting,” said Chilton.
“Clearly you can see more confidence in his play and his body language. That comes with runs. Confidence grows as your innings progresses and you become more fluent.
“When you are not had a run of scores, your confidence gets challenged, that's the nature of the game we are in.”
Haseeb’s innings today followed his recent 77 not out at the Ageas Bowl and Chilton added: “Haseeb showed at Hampshire he was defensively and technically in good shape.
“Today, to absorb the pressure and movement early on, then bat the length of time he has shows his game is in good order.
“And you saw towards the end his scoring options increase.”
Hameed will resume his innings on 88 when play resumes tomorrow (10.30am start) with Tom Bailey for company with Lancashire on 222-8.
After three days’ play Essex are 115-4 in their first innings, trailing Lancashire by 107 runs with bad weather once again curtailed play early in this Specsavers County championship match.
With one day remaining, a draw looks to be the most likely outcome of this meeting of the top two teams.
A bright and breezy 10th wicket partnership of 57 between Tom Bailey and Kyle Jarvis took Lancashire to a first innings total of 290 when play resumed today, with 68 runs struck from 14 overs.
Haseeb Hameed added 3 runs to his overnight 85 before being trapped lbw by a Porter delivery that kept very low giving the batsman little chance.
But Bailey, who produced some thumping drives in his 34 not out, and Jarvis embarked on an enterprising and entertaining partnership to frustrate Essex and take Lancashire to a welcome, second batting point.
In fact they came close to a third point but Jarvis, having hit spinner Harmer for six, was bowled for 26 attempting to repeat the shot from the next delivery.
That represented a good recovery by Lancashire with the last three wickets doubling the score from yesterday’s perilous 145-7.
Ryan McLaren then put Essex in early trouble with two wickets before lunch to leave the visitors on 38-2 at the break.
Nick Browne on 6 offered no shot to a delivery that ripped out his off stump while Dan Lawrence was well caught at third slip by a diving Dane Vilas for 12 giving McLaren lunch time figures of 2-12 from 8 overs.
Ravi Bopara joined forces with Varun Chopra to steady the innings during the afternoon, the pair building a patient partnership of 58 runs that took 25 overs, although Bopara survived being dropped in the slips when on 18.
Tom Bailey was the unlucky bowler on that occasion but the tall seam bowler was celebrating shortly afterwards when he trapped Chopra lbw for 40 to leave Essex on 81-3.
The weather deteriorated shortly afterwards forcing McLaren to turn to the spin of Stephen Parry and Liam Livingstone to prevent the umpires taking the players off the field due to bad light.
And from the last ball before tea Parry took the wicket of Bopara for 34, caught at slip by Livingstone to make the score 115-4.
But rain arrived during the interval to end the day early with play finally abandoned at 5pm.
Haseeb Hameed made his highest score of the season with 88 in Lancashire’s first innings and was delighted to have contributed runs when the team were in a difficult position.
“Conditions were quite difficult yesterday,” he said, “and after losing early wickets it was important for one of us to dig in and try to get a few partnerships together.
“I was glad I was able to be part of a few of those.
“I was quite determined to score runs in whatever way possible and bat for as long as I could.
“And it was the partnerships that kept me going, even when I wasn’t scoring as freely as I’d have liked.
“They were really important partnerships and I felt it was a good total on that wicket.”
Following his unbeaten 77 against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl, there was a three week gap between games for Hameed, apart from some rain interrupted second team outings, but he said:
“I felt confidence returning (in that game) even though it wasn’t ideal having three weeks between games,” he said. “As a batter having rhythm is important and you can only get that out in the middle.
“I had to find that again a bit last week against Warwickshire but I felt quite good before I got out.
“This innings, the saying is the longer you spend out in the middle the easier it becomes, and that was the case for me.
“The ball started doing a bit less as it got older and softer and their bowlers started to tire.
It’s about learning when it’s time to soak up a bit of pressure and when it’s time to the pressure back on the opposition.
“I feel like the more innings I play and the more time I spend out in the middle, the more I’m learning about that end of the game. Hopefully I can continue to develop in that way.”
“I do feel good at the crease right now and for me it’s about making sure I do the right things for myself.”
Hameed is relishing the run of games over final weeks of the season, aiming to end the season in good form.
“That’s the aim for me and the team,” he said. “We’ve got an important few weeks coming up in terms of where we are in the table and where we’d like to finish.
“My role is try and contribute as much as I can.”
The final day of Lancashire’s game with Essex petered out to a draw with further rain this morning preventing play until 1.40pm, which meant only a total of 176 overs were actually played over the four days.
Both Lancashire and Essex took 9 points from the game to leave a 36 point gap between the two sides at the top of the Specsavers County Championship table with three games remaining.
Essex eventually resumed their first innings on 115-4 but Ryan McLaren wasted little time before adding to his two wickets from yesterday with a couple more; Adam Wheater edging to Dane Vilas at gully for 21 and Ashar Zaidi edged behind to Jos Buttler for 6 to finish with figures of 4-45.
Tom Bailey then bowled James Foster for 17 and Jordan Clark trapped Harmer lbw for 11 on the stroke of tea to leave Essex on 172-8.
The visitors pushed on to claim a batting point courtesy of a partnership between Paul Walter (32 not out) and Jamie Porter (7 not out) at which point Essex declared on 202-8.
With no prospect of a result, the teams shook hands on a draw after Lancashire declared their second innings on 0-0 which took the game to the start of the final hour.
Head Coach Glen Chapple had no issues with the Essex declaration.
“I understand why they’ve done that and I’ve no problem with that,” he said. “They didn’t think they could get another batting point, the game was virtually over and they weren't going to risk losing another point to us.”
Chapple was happy with the cricket that was played by his Red Rose side adding:
“We’re pleased with our performance. To get stuck in on a damp pitch that seamed everywhere for a couple of sessions and reach 290 was a really good effort.
“It was great for Haseeb to bat for so long in testing conditions. Towards the end of our innings we showed we can bat all the way down with Tom Bailey and Stephen Parry making good scores.
“And we restricted Essex to less runs on a flatter pitch so from the cricket that was played we can be pleased with ourselves.
A draw always seemed the likely outcome, especially following this morning’s delay, and Chapple said:
“Today was about getting as many points as we could. We were thinking of potentially setting them a score if we’d been able to wrap up their innings a bit earlier, just to see what we could achieve.
“But there is still time left in the season. I don’t think Essex would have been interested in a testing target. But we wanted to just give it every chance we could and get as many points as we could.
Looking ahead to the three remaining games, Chapple added: “If we are honest, we need Essex to drop points and our responsibility is to win our games.
“If that happened, it is set for a very exciting finish to the season.
“Our job is to continue the cricket we have been playing until the end of the season – tough quality cricket.”