Livingstone century rescues Lancs
Liam Livingstone made a superb 114 and combined with Steven Croft in a century partnership that rescued Lancashire from a poor start after being put in to bat on the opening day of this Specsavers County Championship match against Leicestershire.
Josh Bohannon and Tom Bailey built on that good work with an unbeaten 64-run partnership in the evening to reach the close at Liverpool with Lancashire well placed on 347-7.
Livingstone and Croft came together with the Red Rose innings in a spot of difficulty on 128-5 early in the afternoon session after being put in to bat on a wicket that had offered early assistance to the bowlers and on which the odd delivery had kept low.
Livingstone had made 29 by the lunch break but he moved cautiously during the early afternoon, finding solid support from Croft to keep the visitors attack at bay.
“It was a good day,” said Livingstone. “We didn’t know what the pitch was going to be like this morning so to recover to where we are now from a difficult first session was really pleasing.
“We needed to dig in, and we set a target (at lunch) of trying to bat the day out and see where we were.”
There was an extraordinary moment however when Dieter Klein lost his grip on a delivery that flew a good twenty feet in the air and was smashed for a one-bounce four by Livingstone overhead-style as if he was serving in a tennis match!
“I don’t really know what happened,” said Livingstone. “I saw the ball coming towards me and thought I’d just try and hit it-and let the umpires decide whether it was allowed or not,” he laughed.
It was a shot that took the Lancashire batsman to 2,500 career runs in first-class cricket, and Livingstone soon reached his half century from a patient 105 balls midway through the day.
He then pressed the accelerator in commanding style to thrill a good crowd at sunny Aigburth during second part of the afternoon, with a memorable nine ball sequence that produced 21 runs and included two sixes just before tea, the second maximum bringing up the 100 partnership with Croft.
Livingstone reached his seventh first-class century soon after the resumption, having taken just 43 balls to progress from fifty and he moved quickly to 114 before mistiming a lofted drive off Neil Dexter to Mark Cosgrove at mid-on.
“I’ve worked quite hard over the last two weeks to try and get back in to a red ball rhythm,” he revealed.
“I’ve spent quite a bit of time playing white ball cricket over the last couple of months so to be able to just drop back into being nice and patient and waiting for the bad ball to come, it was very pleasing I was able to do it today.
“I’ve been beating myself up a little bit over the last couple of weeks wondering why I can’t bat for a long period of time and be nice and patient. But it doesn’t just come back that easily.
“I’ve worked hard, and Mark Chilton has worked hard with me as well, just trying to build my confidence back up for red ball cricket.
“Today I got in, found my rhythm and played nicely.”
That wicket ended a fine partnership of 136 with Croft who had played such an important supporting role throughout the afternoon and the Blackpool-born all-rounder went on reach his half century before being bowled by Callum Parkinson for 51 with the score 283-7.
Josh Bohannon (41 not out) struck the ball well to build on that good work and add 64 for the 8th wicket with Tom Bailey (29 not out) to put Lancashire into a strong position by the close.
It was a dramatic start to the day however, with Keaton Jennings run out from the second ball of the day following a superb piece of fielding by Hasan Azad. The Leicestershire short leg stopped Jennings’ firm drive and threw the stumps down in one movement with the batsman’s momentum having taken him forward and well out of his ground.
Haseeb Hameed and Jake Lehmann responded in positive fashion with some crisply struck boundaries in adding 46 but the introduction of Klein for the 13th over brought immediate results as Lehmann was bowled by a delivery that kept low after making 22.
Hameed had made an increasingly assured 30, reaching that score with a nicely timed straight drive off Klein, but he fell to the following delivery after nicking a forward defensive shot to debutant wicketkeeper Harry Swindells.
Mohammad Abbas, returning for a second spell from the River End, struck immediately with a pitched up delivery that Rob Jones, having battled away diligently for the best part of an hour, nicked behind for 11 and, having taken four boundaries from the first three overs of the afternoon, Dane Vilas gave Swindells a third catch when edging a drive off Abbas for 34 with Lancashire on 125-5.
That left the innings in the balance but Livingstone’s century and two excellent partnerships turned the day around.
“It’s actually quite a good pitch,” added Livingstone, “but it’s not got a lot of pace. There was the odd ball that misbehaved, but it’s a decent cricket wicket.
“If you put the effort in as a bowler I think there’s enough in it (to be successful), but if the bowler’s get it wrong you can score runs.
“Thankfully we’ve got a decent score and still have batters in tomorrow morning.”
Photos: Barry Mitchell
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