Lancashire victory bid held up by battling Bears
Warwickshire produced a battling rearguard action to take this Specsavers County Championship match into a fourth day after conceding a first-innings deficit of 304 runs to Lancashire.
The Red Rose declared on 504-8 and have taken six wickets in the visitors second innings to put themselves in a great position to clinch a fourth championship win of the season.
Warwickshire’s Tim Ambrose led the Bears resistance with an unbeaten 76 as the visitors closed 29 runs behind with four wickets remaining on 275-6, but there is still work for the Red Rose side to do at Emirates Old Trafford tomorrow.
“I think we are very happy how the three day’s have gone,” said Ryan McLaren.
“Up to now we’ve been in control of the game, and I was really happy how we bowled in the first innings.
“ Livi’s innings combined with a couple of partnerships has put us into a strong position.
“We took important wickets at crucial times today, which was fairly pleasing.”
“The wicket has flattened out a bit (today),” he said.
“ The new ball still offered a bit for us this afternoon, but it’s never easy taking twenty wickets in four-day cricket. With the combinations we’ve got in our bowling we’ve got a lot of options.
“It’s hard work but that’s what winning in four-day cricket is about.”
McLaren insists the focus remains on tomorrow before any thoughts go towards next week’s encounter with Championship leaders Essex.
“This is the business end of the season,” he said. “So every day and every session is vital.
“You can’t pitch up for two days cricket and then have two bad sessions. You might find yourself in trouble.
“Up to now we’ve been performing good and consistent cricket for the duration of the four-day competition.
“As long as we stick to that I think we are giving ourselves the best chance.
“The first thing for us is tomorrow and trying to finish the game off.”
McLaren also reflected on how his first season with Lancashire has gone so far.
“If I am being really honest, there is no excellent season in my book,” he said.
“If you ask me what I could have added to it, I would say my bowling in one-day cricket left a lot to be desired by my own standards.
“I felt I let the team down in a couple of big matches.
“All in all, the rest I am happy with how it has gone.
“But you are never satisfied. As long as I can contribute to the success of the team, that's all that matters, it's not about stats or numbers.
“We were touted as relegation side at the start, along with Essex. There were some who thought I was a very uninspiring and unexciting signing. Those are opinions. Essex are No.1 and we are No.2
“What can you do? They are people's opinions but we are pretty happy with how it has gone so far.”
The story of this third day started with Lancashire batting on for three overs this morning before rain forced the players from field.
In that time Livingstone, who resumed on 215, hit Jeetan Patel over mid-wicket for 6 before he was finally out for 224 after driving Ryan Sidebottom to Matthew Lamb at short mid-wicket.
McLaren thumped Sidebottom for two fours before pulling the same bowler to Patel on the mid-wicket boundary for 21. That proved to be the final ball of the innings with Lancashire declaring on 504-8 following the rain delay with 12 overs play lost.
Facing a potentially tricky spell before lunch Andy Umeed and Dominic Sibley survived a few scares following good spells by McLaren and Jarvis to reach the interval still together on 41-0.
It was Jordan Clark, having been introduced into the attack straight after lunch, who made the breakthrough. Sibley drove the bowler for four to bring up the 50 partnership but Clark produced a beauty of a seaming delivery thee balls later that found the edge of Umeed’s bat, Alex Davies taking the catch with the opener gone for 19 and Warwickshire 52-1.
Sibley and Jonathan Trott added 39 runs for the second wicket, the former going on to reach his half century before McLaren returned to claim a brace of lbw decisions; first Trott for 16 followed by Ian Bell for 15.
Livingstone picked up the key wicket of Sibley for 57 when the opener inside edged to Haseeb Hameed at leg slip to leave Warwickshire on 117-4, which became 127-4 by tea still 177 runs behind.
Facing a lengthy final session of 40 overs, Ambrose and Lamb put up a mixture of strong resistance combined with good shots in a partnership of 66 runs across 26 overs before Lamb edged Parkinson to Livingstone at slip for 26.
The leg spinner then claimed a second wicket when Barker was lbw for 22 reverse sweeping to leave the visitors on 229-6.
Ambrose continued to battle away for the Bears, reaching his half century when cutting Parkinson for 4 and the wicketkeeper/batsman safely negotiated his way through to the close on 76 with Patel 18 not out.
A crucial day awaits tomorrow.
Photo: Simon Pendrigh