Hameed leads Lancashire fightback against Essex
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.
Photo: Simon Pendrigh