Jones and Vilas take opening day honours at Sedbergh
Rob Jones and Dane Vilas both scored vital half centuries and combined to leave Lancashire the happier of the two teams at the close of the historic first day’s play at Sedbergh School.
The pair came together on 141-4 just after the tea interval, and the day evenly poised in this Specsavers County Championship match against Durham, before their 87-run partnership during the final session swung the day Lancashire’s way with the Red Rose on 275-5 at the close.
It was appreciated by the large crowd who had journeyed north to take in the action at Lancashire’s newest home venue.
With Durham opting to take to the field first after an uncontested toss, the honour of bowling the first ball in first-class cricket at Sedbergh School fell to Chris Rushworth with Keaton Jennings playing a forward defensive push back up the wicket.
And it was Jennings who scored the first runs with a push to third man for four from the third ball of the day. But, after a short ten minute delay for rain and bad light, Jennings then received the only ball that misbehaved during the morning when a Rushworth delivery kept low to bowl the opener for 11.
Davies countered with consecutive boundaries off Brydon Carse and the morning developed into a terrific battle between bat and ball as both sides strove for early supremacy.
Haseeb Hameed took nineteen deliveries to size up the conditions before square driving Rimmington for four and followed that with a lovely cover drive off the same bowler two overs later.
Davies mixed defence and attack to advanced adroitly to 38 by lunch which Lancashire reached in good shape on 71-1 but straight after the break the opening batsman received a ‘snorter’ from Carse, the bowler finding extra bounce and movement that Davies could only nick to wicketkeeper Ned Eckersley.
The visitors were soon celebrating further success when Hameed edged to second slip off Ben Raine for 23 and Durham’s bowlers maintained a good line and length throughout the afternoon to restrict the scoring, evinced by Liam Livingstone and Rob Jones’ careful partnership of 60 from 148 balls through the middle part of the day.
Livingstone drove Carse square for four when play resumed after an early tea brought about by bad light, but he then departed lbw to Nathan Rimmington for 35 to leave Lancashire on 141-4.
Dane Vilas quickly upped the scoring with some attacking shots, a square cut off Rimmington the most emphatic of the six early boundaries struck by the Red Rose skipper as he posted the fifty partnership with Jones from exactly 13 overs.
Vilas brought up the 200 and the first batting point in the 77th over with a square cut for four before both batsmen posted their half centuries in quick succession, Jones from a resilient 138 balls (6 fours) and Vilas an impressive 68 balls on a pitch where run scoring was far from straightforward.
Rushworth, armed with the new ball, trapped Jones lbw for 52 with a delivery that kept a touch low but Steven Croft (29 not out) helped to maintain Lancashire’s ascendancy with another good partnership of 47 runs inside 12 overs with Vilas, who continued in fine style to finish unbeaten on 67.
Rob Jones felt Lancashire’s 275-5 represented a good day’s work.
“We’ll take that and hope to capitalise on it tomorrow after the hard work we’ve put in today,” he said.
“It was set up by Al (Davies) and Has (Hameed) and it was quite tough on that wicket.
“I don’t think it’s going to get any better, and there is a bit of variable bounce.
“Hopefully we can put a big score on tomorrow, 350 would be good, 400 brilliant.
Playing on a wicket new to all the players was a test, with a fair degree of certainty that Durham would opt to bowl first and Jones said: “The Sedbergh groundsman told us it was a good wicket with a decent carry in it, and it is a good cricket wicket.
“You can score freely if they miss their line and length but it’s hard to get the ball away if they put it in the right area.
“And the ball nipped and swung around a bit, especially with conditions being overcast all day.
“But the boys fought really well and it ended up being a really good day for us.”
Jones was naturally pleased to have made a half-century, and an important one in the context of the day.
“It’s all about contributing to the team and my focus today was first about how can I get to lunch, and then later how can I get through to tea” he explained.
“It’s an inner battle you have and it’s about getting stuck in. Make sure you stay there and see it out because it’s only going to get easier as long as you stay there.
“Building partnerships is key. If we do that tomorrow and get a good score, we’ve got one of the best bowling attacks in the country and if we can make some inroads early on we will give ourselves a good chance of winning the game. “
Photos: Barry Mitchell
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