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Parkinson best puts Lancs on top against Sussex

Parkinson best puts Lancs on top against Sussex

Matt Parkinson took a career-best 6-23 and Glenn Maxwell 4-23 to skittle Sussex for 127 before Alex Davies and Keaton Jennings steered Lancashire into a strong position on 149-1 to lead by 22 runs at the end of the first day of this eventful Specsavers County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford.

The day started on a sombre note as the players of both sides and the umpires lined up outside the dressing rooms for a minute’s silence in remembrance of former Lancashire captain Jack Bond who died earlier in the week.

When play commenced Sussex suffered an astonishing collapse after winning the toss and electing to bat on the same wicket used for last week’s World Cup semi-final. Openers Phil Salt and Varun Chopra had put 77 runs on the board with some attacking shots before Parkinson and Maxwell tore through the visitor’s line-up taking a combined 10-64 in 33.2 overs either side of lunch.

It was a remarkable turnaround in fortunes although Salt and Chopra had ridden their luck slightly, with Richard Gleeson in particular unfortunate not to having a wicket or two having seen Chopra dropped at slip when on 6, and a couple of edges fly over and wide of the slip cordon. Graham Onions too had come close to a breakthrough but the introduction of spin in the 14th over transformed the morning.

Having posted their fifty partnership in the 13th over both openers fell on the same score forty minutes before lunch. Salt-having played a typically attacking innings-swept Maxwell, returning to the side just two days after Australia’s final World Cup game, into the trap set at deep backward square where the waiting Josh Bohannon took the catch. Chopra was lbw for 32 in the following over to Parkinson, playing his first Championship match of the season, after pushing forward but beaten by turn from the leg spinner.

Something of a procession followed as the Sussex line up struggled to deal with the twin spin attack. Luke Wells was caught and bowled by Maxwell for 5 having produced an indeterminate straight drive, Stiaan van Zyl pushed at a Parkinson delivery but edged to Rob Jones at slip for 5 and Delray Rawlins went for a duck when giving Steven Croft a bat/pad catch at short leg off Maxwell.

Ben Brown and David Wiese reached lunch without further mishap on 95-5 but the wickets continued to tumble in the following session. Brown was caught behind for 4 after nibbling outside off at Maxwell in the first over after the break while Parkinson struck with two lbws in his first over of the afternoon trapping both David Wiese, playing no shot, and Will Beer pushing forward defensively.

That meant eight wickets had fallen for 18 runs inside 16 overs and although Chris Jordan (21 not out) and Abi Sakande added 27 for the ninth wicket, Parkinson wrapped up the innings with two further strikes to leave Sussex 127 all out.

It was the first time since August 2000 that all ten wickets in an innings had fallen to spin at Emirates Old Trafford when Gary Keedy took 6-56 and Gary Yates 4-91 against Durham.

“I don’t think it’s doing as much as they thought,” said Parkinson.

“I think it was in their heads it was spinning yet it was the balls that didn’t spin that caused the most problems. I got three lbws so that’s probably the danger ball.”

Lancashire replied emphatically with a century partnership between Keaton Jennings and Alex Davies, only the second hundred stand for the first wicket this season since Davies and Haseeb Hameed posted 123 against Middlesex at Lord’s in the opening game.

Their partnership demonstrated that there were no demons in the wicket and underlined just how well Parkinson and Maxwell had bowled earlier, although Davies was the grateful recipient of a drop at third slip when he had made only four.

And the visitor’s day worsened when Jordan limped off clutching at the back of his left knee at the end of the eighth over and he failed to reappear.

Instead Davies and Jennings moved steadily towards overhauling the Sussex total during the evening sunshine, Davies playing the more aggressive role in going to his fifty from 88 balls and then blasting five more fours to move quickly onto 72 before edging a cut off Rawlins to wicketkeeper Brown with Lancashire 132-1 and five runs ahead.

Jennings was more circumspect, reaching his half century off 124 balls just before the close, and still there at stumps on 52 not out alongside Haseeb Hameed (4 not out) and intent on helping Lancashire build on their 22 run lead.

It was a good day for Matt Parkinson, who admitted he had almost become resigned to only playing in one-day cricket this season.

“It’s a reflection of how well the seamers have bowled,” he said. “You can’t fault them, there isn’t any better seam attack in the country. So as a spinner it’s been tough. There aren’t many young English spinners playing around the country.

“I was resigned to the fact I might just have a season where I played white ball cricket so it was nice to play today.

And Parkinson was delighted to have struck early when he came on to bowl.

“Getting a wicket early helped, and having Maxi bowl at the other end was quality,” he said. “When you play two spinners on a used pitch there’s a bit more pressure.”

“I just tried to stick to my basics. I haven’t played any red ball cricket at this level this year but I’ve being going well in the seconds. So the plan was to keep it simple and hope the wickets came from pressure.”

Having established a lead, the game plan tomorrow is fairly obvious.

 “Looking at the pitch you wouldn’t want to chase too many in the fourth innings,” said Parkinson. “So the aim is to bat big and bat once.”

Ken Grime
Photos: Barry Mitchell

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