Tuesday 14 - Friday 17 May 2019
Richard Gleeson took his first five-wicket haul for Lancashire, and was well backed up by four wickets from Graham Onions, to give the Red Rose side the advantage over Northants on the opening day of this Specsavers County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford.
The 31 year-old seamer posted figures of 5-53 to register his sixth first-class cricket ‘five-for’ following his return to the side for the first time this season after injury. Lancashire, showing four changes to the side that opened the four-day campaign a month ago at Lord’s with Steven Croft, and Liam Livingstone being joined by new overseas batsman Joe Burns, ended the day on 29-1 trailing by 201 runs.
The visitors arguably had the better of the morning exchanges after being put in to bat with Ricardo Vasconcelos and Rob Newton playing steadily during the first hour before Gleeson’s introduction into the attack. The former Northants seamer struck twice, making the initial breakthrough when Vasconcelos edged a loose shot behind to Dane Vilas after making 23 while Alex Wakely, pushing forward, nicked an edge to the Lancashire wicketkeeper/captain to depart for 2.
The visitors would have been happy to reach lunch on 80-2 with Newton and Temba Bavuma, making his Northants debut as overseas player and evoking memories-for older Lancashire members perhaps-of the diminutive Harry Pilling, adding 36 without undue alarm but that quickly changed during the first hour of the afternoon.
Gleeson nipped one back to trap Newton lbw for 32, and followed that with a similar ball and result to dismiss Rob Keogh for 3. Josh Cobb drove hard at his second ball but was brilliantly caught at gully by Rob Jones diving to his left to give Tom Bailey his first wicket while Onions piled on the misery for Northants with the big wicket of Bavuma, lbw for 39, to leave the visitors struggling on 119-6.
Luke Procter and loan signing Luke Wood responded in positive fashion, the pair battling away through the majority of the afternoon to add 70 runs for the seventh wicket but, with tea just moments away, Procter edged his attempted drive to slip to give Gleeson his fifth victim, the former Red Rose all-rounder departing for 48 with Northants 190-7.
Wood went on after the break to reach his fifth first-class half century from 78 balls but Onions (4-45) finished things off quickly taking the remaining three wickets, including two in one over, to bowl Northants out for 230 with Wood last out for 66 after holing out to Bailey at deep fine leg.
Lancashire lost Haseeb Hameed for 7 when the opener nicked a Ben Sanderson delivery behind to Vasconcelos but Keaton Jennings (16 not out) and Burns (6 not out) safely negotiated their way through to stumps.
Richard Gleeson, who was playing in just his third four-day game for Lancashire and making his home debut today, was naturally delighted with how the day had gone.
“It’s always nice to get your first ‘five-for’ for the club,” he said. “I’m really pleased with that, especially after being out with a few injuries.“
And he admitted to a few nerves at the start of his first game at home.
“I suppose there were at the start of the day,” he said. “It’s a great ground, and there was decent crowd here in nice weather so it was good to get off to a good start.
Gleeson was full of praise for the rest of the bowling attack.
“I thought Bails and Saqib bowled brilliantly,” he said. “Saqib didn’t get the rewards and I think I managed to prosper where he was unfortunate.
“As a quartet I thought we bowled brilliantly. We wanted to bowl first so all in all it was a good day.”
Despite only taking two wickets in the morning session, Gleeson revealed there was not too much disappointment in the dressing room at lunch.
“We had a sit down before we went back out, and we felt that we could have had three of four down (before lunch),” he said.
“We thought we’d bowled well, so we just kept to those same plans and we reaped the rewards.”
Five wickets in the following session were a testament to the collective effort in the afternoon and Gleeson said: “The wicket’s quite good, you’ve got to bowl tight lines and not give anything away. We bowled well as a unit and piled on the pressure.
“There was a little bit of nip and nibble in the wicket. There’s no real swing so you’ve got to bowl pretty straight. Give yourself the best chance of bowling people out or getting lbws.”
“It’s been a great day and hopefully we can push on and bat long tomorrow.”
Keaton Jennings and Rob Jones starred with the bat on another fruitful day for Lancashire against Northants in this Specsavers County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford.
The pair batted through the majority of the first two sessions, compiling a third-wicket partnership of 152 to take Lancashire within reach of Northants first innings total of 230.
Agonisingly Jennings fell just three short of his century after an excellent innings while Jones followed his century in the first Championship match at Lord’s with a fine 67.
But the visitors hit back with the new ball after tea, taking three wickets in three overs to peg back Lancashire’s progress.
A Red Rose rally towards the latter part of the day, thanks to an unbroken seventh-wicket partnership of 67 between Dane Vilas and Tom Bailey, took Lancashire to stumps on the second day in good shape on 276-6 and a lead of 46 runs.
At the start of play Joe Burns departed early for 10 after edging a forward defensive push against left arm seamer Wood to wicketkeeper Vasconcelos.
But that was the only success enjoyed by the visitor’s attack for nearly 63 overs, although they were left to rue putting down a straightforward chance at second slip off Jones when the Lancashire youngster was on 48, Jamie Overton the unlucky bowler. Later Jennings was missed on 92 off a top edged sweep to backward short leg although Ben Sanderson, the guilty party, soon made amends with the ball by dismissing the opener for 97.
After a watchful first hour that saw just 31 runs added to the overnight total of 29-1, Jennings and Jones became more expansive with their strokeplay in the run up to lunch, reached on 112-2.
Having established a solid foundation the pair went on to bat through the afternoon with a mixture of attacking shots and determined defence to steer Lancashire to 188-2 just after tea. And it was a session that could go a long way to settling the outcome of this game on a wicket where patience is required.
Northants fought back well with the new ball, Jennings receiving a rising delivery from Sanderson that he appeared to glove to Vasconcelos, Liam Livingstone was bowled by a swinging delivery from Luke Wood who then trapped Jones lbw as three wickets fell for 10 runs.
When Overton nipped one away to find the edge of Steven Croft’s bat moments later, Lancashire were 209-6 and still 21 runs shy of the visitor’s total.
Vilas (29 not out) and Bailey (39 not out) fought back with an excellent partnership during the final 20 overs of the day.
“It’s been a tough day of cricket and quite attritional,” admitted Rob Jones.
“The way the wicket is playing if you bowl straight and at the top of the stumps it’s quite hard to score.
“There were tricky periods where me and Keats just had to battle through.
“It was good challenge. You almost have to battle with yourself at times because it can be so slow and you get scoreboard pressure because you feel like you are going nowhere.
“But on wickets like that you can get two or three balls away (for runs) and score some boundaries and the momentum is back with you.
“But you just keep trying to grind down the opposition and keep them out there as long as you can.
And Jones paid tribute to his batting partner saying: “Keats is great to bat with.
“He just says smile and enjoy the challenge! No matter what happens just focus on the next ball. Don’t worry if you bat three or four maidens out.”
Just five wickets fell during today’s play, with four of them in a cluster just after tea.
“When we were only two down at tea we were aiming to just bat once,” admitted Jones.
“Unfortunately we lost a few wickets with the new ball. To their credit they bowled well with it.
“But Dane and Bails batted brilliantly at the end to get us into the lead.
“It’s a new ball wicket in that for the first 10 overs it nips around. You can take three or four wickets quickly and that could be key, especially with our bowling attack.
“Hopefully we can push on tomorrow and then make inroads into their batting with the new ball.