Davies century leads Lancashire reply against Hampshire
Alex Davies struck a fine century to lead Lancashire’s reply to Hampshire’s 395 on the second day of this Specsavers County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford.
The 22-year old opening batsman produced a high quality innings of 115, cutting and driving to great effect throughout and forging good partnerships with Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dane Vilas as Lancashire closed the day on 278-5, behind by 117 runs.
“It feels really nice to get another hundred,” said Davies. “I’m really pleased with the innings and pleased we are in a decent position but I wanted a few more runs. I slightly feel like I have left some (runs) out there.
“I was a bit tired towards the end and it was just a lack of concentration. Next time I’ll try and keep batting rather than give it away like that.
It was Davies’s third first-class century of the season-and his career-and the young wicketkeeper batsman now leads the Red Rose run scoring in the Championship with 487 runs at an average of 48.70.
“I’m just trying to keep scoring runs at the top (of the order) and put us in good positions,” he said.
“I’d not got many in the last couple of games. I had a good start, two hundreds in the first three games and then fell away.
“I think I was trying too hard, so I’ve tried to relax a bit and trust what got me those runs earlier, and gone back to what I do well. It stood me in good stead today.
Davies has always stated his desire to be thought of as a wicketkeeper who can bat up the order, rather than occupying a sometimes more traditional number 6 or 7 spot in the line-up and he is determined to score the runs to back that up this season.
“I have always felt like a natural opener,” he said. “It is more of a mental shift and I am feeling really comfortable.
“I set myself targets every year. It is three hundreds and it's a nice start for me, but I'm nowhere near where I want to be but I have had a few games where I have gone cheaply.
After successfully coming through two knee operations last season, this year has gone well so far him, something Davies appreciates.
“I am gloving them really well,” he said.
“And to be honest, I am just enjoying playing again after missing out last season.
“It made me hungry and performances like this are what I was thinking about during the rehab.
“There are days this season when I look back at how much I missed last season and I have to make up for that time out now.
“I have passed 2,000 first-class runs now, but I could have been on a lot more if I hadn't missed last season so I have to make up for those.”
Davies forged a good partnership with Chanderpaul to steer Lancashire into calmer waters after the loss of early wickets had seen their reply stumble to 69-3 on another roasting day in the Manchester sun.
The pair started cautiously with 12 runs from 6 overs but the double introduction of spinner Brad Taylor and medium pacer Sean Ervine brought a sudden avalanche of runs-37 in 3 overs at one point-with both batsmen hitting Taylor for six and Ervine quickly withdrawn after conceding 24 runs (including extras) in two overs.
The partnership for the fourth wicket had realised 74 runs from 16 overs when Chanderpaul was stumped by Lewis McManus after Taylor produced a sharply turning delivery that beat the batsman’s forward push.
Vilas scored his second Championship half-century of the season, making an excellent 76 not out, and helping to add 80 runs across 19 overs for the fifth wicket before a tiring Davies pulled occasional medium pacer James Vince to Michael Carberry at deep square leg to leave the score on 223-5.
Vilas and Ryan McLaren (23 not out) steered Lancashire to the close with another solid partnership of 53 runs during the final hour.
Earlier Lancashire were frustrated by the Hampshire tail at the start of the day with the visitors adding 44 runs to finish 395 all out well into the second hour of the morning.
Taylor edged James Anderson to McLaren at second slip after just one run had been scored, but Kyle Abbott and last man Matt Salisbury battled away to take their side in sight of 400 while Abbott moved steadily towards his first-ever century. Agonisingly he fell three short after his partner skied a pull off McLaren to Chanderpaul at mid-wicket to end the innings.
That left Lancashire thirty minutes to bat before lunch but a good opening spell from Gareth Berg either side of interval undermined the start of the Red Rose reply.
Rob Jones, having been hit on the helmet by a short ball from Berg, departed lbw for 2 when the bowler cleverly pitched the next delivery up.
Luke Procter followed for 8 at the start of the afternoon, bowled by Berg from an in-swinging delivery.
Abbott nipped one back to trap Steven Croft lbw for 1 after the Lancashire skipper had defended determinedly for 32 balls to leave the Red Rose on 69-3.
It could have been worse however, because earlier Davies had received a big reprieve on 17, stranded short of his ground backing up too far but relieved to see the bowler Salisbury’s throw miss the stumps.
It was a close call, and one that Davies went on to make the most of on a memorable day.
“It was a good day for us today,” was his assessment.
“It is set up nicely for the next two days. We need to bat past them. You never know what the pitch will do here, so we need to be ruthless with the bat.
“The pitch is good, it is a very typical Old Trafford wicket, it just depends if it goes on the fourth day which is why we need a big first innings score.”
Photo: Simon Pendrigh