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Lancashire on the verge of victory

Lancashire on the verge of victory

Richard Gleeson claimed his second five-wicket haul in the match after Dane Vilas had made 97 earlier today to put Lancashire on the verge of victory after three days of this Specsavers County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford.

Northants were all out for exactly 200 just before the close leaving a victory target tomorrow of 16 runs.

Gleeson’s return of 10-113 in this match is a career-best, the first time he has taken ten in a match, and his outstanding spell of four wickets in 15 balls wrecked Northants’ second innings resistance during the evening session.

“I’ve never had a ‘ten-for’ before so I’m hugely proud – and very happy I don’t have to do any bowling tomorrow!” he grinned.

“I didn’t bowl very well before tea so we had a sit down at the break and a chat about how we were going about things and I decided to try a bit of short stuff to try and get the batsmen’s feet maybe not moving quite as much and the plan worked.

“The crowd seemed to enjoy it. It’s entertaining cricket and that what we are there to do.”

Facing a big first innings deficit of 185, Northants started badly losing Ricardo Vasconcelos early after the left handed opening batsman cut Tom Bailey straight to Steven Croft at point for 22. Then with the score on 54 Northants lost both skipper Alex Wakely, who mistimed an attempted cut off Gleeson to Haseeb Hameed at cover, and Luke Procter who edged Graham Onions to Keaton Jenings at slip to leave the visitors struggling on 54-3.

Temba Bavuma edged the first delivery after tea from Bailey to wicketkeeper Vilas for 15 to make that 87-4 but a dogged fifth wicket partnership of 53 in 23 overs between Rob Keogh and Josh Cobb then held up Lancashire’s victory bid.

Gleeson returned at the Statham End in spectacular style with a decisive four-wicket burst, trapping Cobb lbw for 30, Keogh caught behind down the leg side for 42, and then both Rob Newton and Jamie Overton had their stumps rearranged in the space of three balls.

“I bowled a few short ones at Rob Keogh and I think that put a little bit of doubt in the other batsmen’s minds,” Gleeson explained.

“There were a couple (of them) that I think were caught waiting for that short one and they got a full ball. And it’s always nice when you see the stumps cartwheel back,” he smiled.

After Gleeson had struck there was no way back for Northants from 150-8 although some lusty blows from Nathan Buck, who finished on 32 not out, took the visitors ahead before two wickets by Liam Livingstone in the extra half hour claimed by Lancashire ended the innings just after 7pm.

“We were a bit expensive this afternoon but managed to sneak a couple of wickets,” said Gleeson. “You needed to be a little bit patient because the pitch wasn’t doing a lot.

“I think we’ve got some good bowlers and we all have something a little bit different. It means we are always asking questions and there’s no let up for the opposition.

“Hopefully we can keep doing that.”

When play resumed on the third morning Vilas and Bailey were quickly into their stride with Lancashire on 276-6 and looking to extend their overnight lead of 46 runs.

The pair scored briskly during the first hour with Bailey reaching a career-best 68 and helping Vilas set a new Lancashire record seventh-wicket partnership of 126 against Northants beating the previous best of 123 by Jack Bond and David Hughes at Southport in 1971.

It was an excellent innings by Bailey who went after anything short or off line, receiving a blow on the helmet for his trouble at one point, and thumping 11 fours before being bowled by Buck.

Vilas motored on also hitting 11 boundaries in total and finding good support from Saqib Mahmood (27 not out) in another valuable partnership worth 65 runs, before the Lancashire skipper fell agonisingly short of a fifth Red Rose century when caught and bowled for 97 by Luke Wood off a leading edge.

Wood finished with 5-72 after taking the wicket of Onions, and Keogh ended the innings trapping Gleeson lbw with Lancashire 415 all out. It proved - more or less - to be enough.

Ken Grime
Photos: Barry Mitchell


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