Hartley takes career-best as Lancs qualify for Division 1
Lancashire are through to Division One of the 2021 LV= Insurance County Championship after the game against Kent finished in a tense draw, with the visitors hanging on with eight wickets down before the players bumped fists just after six pm.
Results elsewhere confirmed Lancashire’s qualification along with Yorkshire with one game to go – the Roses match at Headingley starting next Sunday.
The story of today centred around Lancashire’s efforts to force a victory despite nearly half of this game being lost to the weather.
Tom Hartley starred with a career-best 4-42 but Kent fought hard to salvage a draw after being shot out for 74 in their first innings.
Jack Leaning led their resistance with an unbeaten 53 and although Lancashire had Kent eight wickets down and bowled 19 overs in the final hour they were unable to part Leaning and James Logan.
Tom Hartley was brought in to this game to replace Matt Parkinson following the latter's England call-up on the second day of the match and Head Coach Glen Chapple was delighted how he had performed.
“Tom’s doing brilliantly as a young spinner,” he said. “In T20 cricket his economy rate is exceptional and he’s up there with anybody now.
“He’s still learning in four-day cricket. There’s a whole lot of skills and awareness of the game to develop. But he’s doing brilliantly. He bowled some really good spells after tea. And it was great to see him take wickets today.”
Lancashire had declared on their overnight score of 255-9 with a lead of 185 after another rain-delayed start.
And Wood made an early breakthrough when play got underway after an early lunch. Ollie Robinson drove wildly at a wide delivery that found an edge to Dane Vilas behind the stumps to be out for with the score on 13.
Jordan Cox edged James Anderson, bowling with five slips, to Rob Jones at second slip who parried the ball up into the air with Luke Wells completed the catch from first slip.
Joe Denly then drove Danny Lamb to Alex Davies at mid-wicket for 17 to leave Kent in trouble on 40-3, but Heino Kuhn and Leaning battled away to add 31 in 11 overs to steer the visitors into calmer waters.
But just before a shower took the players off for an early tea, Hartley struck.
The left-arm spinner tempted Kuhn into a drive at a ball that gripped and turned to find an edge that was snapped up by Wells at slip to depart for 21 with Kent 71-4 and still having to face a mammoth 44 overs in the last session.
Twenty year-old Tawanda Muyeye, who had replaced England-bound Zak Crawley, dug in alongside Leaning after the interval before he was trapped lbw by Hartley for 7.
Darren Stevens joined Leaning in a stubborn 6th wicket partnership that only added 26 runs but used up 16 overs before he was lbw to off-spinner Wells for 17.
And just as the game went into the final hour Hartley struck twice in the space of three balls having Matt Milnes caught behind and Harry Podmore bowled for a duck.
The visitors were indebted to Leaning who fought a great rear-guard action to finish unbeaten on 53 from 199 balls and he received great support from Logan as fielders crowded around the batsmen.
"We've bowled really well,” added Chapple, “And Jimmy (Anderson) was exceptional but it was another good team performance and it was nice to get back to red ball cricket.
"Jimmy was just probing, bowling at excellent pace, generating steep bounce, moving the ball like he does and there were hardly any balls out of place.
"When conditions are in his favour he is virtually unplayable and that spell was great to watch. He has romped to 1,000 wickets in 260 games and there is plenty to come - it's a great achievement for him but there is more in the tank.
"We have him again against Yorkshire and I'm looking forward to seeing him bowl - he will be a positive influence and we have a fit squad so we'll be able to take a strong team to Headingley."
"It is a good feeling to know we are in Division One before the last game because there are going to be a lot of teams playing under pressure next week.”
With Yorkshire having qualified, points in next week’s Roses game will contribute to the Division One standings. It should be quite a game.