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Honours even after hard fought day

Honours even after hard fought day

Lancashire and Northamptonshire fought an intense battle for control on the opening day of this LV= Insurance County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford with the hosts reaching 264-8 by the close.

Half centuries by Alex Davies and Josh Bohannon after Dane Vilas won the toss were countered by three wickets and a run out for Tom Taylor while former Red Rose spinner Simon Kerrigan excelled with 3-53 from a marathon 30 overs on his return for the first time in nearly four years.

“It’s pretty even I would say,” was the summary of the day’s top run scorer Josh Bohannon.

“We’ve have liked a few more runs and not to lose as many wickets later on, “he added, “but it’s a nice pitch. It’s tough if they bowl in the right areas but I think we’ve got the right team to win it.”

Matt Parkinson replaced Danny Lamb in the one change from last week’s opening match against Sussex while Northants overseas player Wayne Parnell, not available last week due to Covid-19 protocols, was omitted from the visitors line-up.

Lancashire started brightly with Alex Davies and Keaton Jennings both driving successfully for early boundaries in an opening partnership of 38 before Jennings on 13, edged Taylor to Ricardo Vasconcelos at first slip who made no mistake, having earlier injured himself attempting a catch at slip from the fourth ball of the morning.

But Davies and Bohannon attacked the Northants bowling with some success, bringing up their 50 partnership in 63 balls with Davies continuing his good early season form and Bohannon striking the ball with authority and reaching 1,000 first-class runs for Lancashire during his innings.

“It’s nice to tick that milestone off,” said Bohannon, “but I still feel like I have a long way to go and a lot to learn.

“Again, it’s days like today that are big learners for me. It’s always nice to get a few and spend a few hours out there today.”

Davies raced to his half century in eye-catching style with three boundaries and a three from four Nathan Buck deliveries in the 21st over and looked set to ‘go big’ before becoming victim to a great piece of fielding after making 57 when Taylor threw down the stumps at the batsman’s end from midwicket as the two batsmen hesitated over a quick single.

That left Lancashire on 97-2 just before lunch and the afternoon developed into a determined battle with Bohannon and Steven Croft resisting some accurate bowling from the visitors’ attack, for whom Kerrigan bowled with good control throughout the afternoon.

Scoring opportunities became limited but Bohannon and Croft patiently built a partnership of 46 across 27 overs before Croft edged Taylor to wicketkeeper Adam Rossington for 26. Taylor had thus played his part in all three wickets, but his day was soon hampered by a finger injury on his right hand after parrying a fierce drive off his own bowling which required treatment off the field on a number of occasions.

Bohannon broke the scoring shackles with three boundaries off Taylor’s following over, going to a 146-ball half century off the first, but Kerrigan then took out the Lancashire middle order with three wickets either side of tea.

The first was Bohannon, lbw for a fine 68 just before tea, and the left-arm spinner continued his marathon spell from the James Anderson end after the break to pick up two important wickets when he spun one past Rob Jones’ forward press with Rossington completing the stumping, followed by that of Red Rose skipper Vilas, who had started in positive fashion, trapped in front for 26 to leave Lancashire on 212-6.

“I was gutted to miss out and not kick on,” said Bohannon. “I can still take a lot of positives from it though.

“Me and Crofty did the hard yards and then none of us have gone on and made it count and get a big score.

“We felt if we could stick in, we would get enough balls to score off eventually. With the pitch being the way it is and the type of fields they set, maybe we could have taken more risks but felt during that period it was the right approach.”

Further wickets followed. Taylor, armed with the second new ball, trapped Tom Bailey lbw for 9 to break a 24-run partnership for the seventh wicket with Luke Wood, who struck three nice fours in his 23 before unluckily pulling a short ball from Ben Sanderson on to his stumps.

Saqib Mahmood (15 not out) and Tom Hartley (10 not out) patiently steered Lancashire to a second batting point reaching the close on 264-8.

Bohannon is enjoying the challenge of occupying the number three spot in Lancashire’s batting line-up. It’s where he scored his only first-class century to date against Derbyshire in 2019.

“I’d like to change the column (of fifties and hundreds) round and get some more conversions into three figures,” he declared.

“It’s what all my work has been based around during the winter and the last couple of years. It’s about trying to bat for good lengths of time and settle in to batting at number three.

“It’s a tough thing to do but I’m enjoying the challenge.

And Bohannon had a word for the returning Simon Kerrigan on his return to Emirates Old Trafford.

“It’s always nice to see friends back bowling,” he said. “I played with Keggsy at Ormskirk and at Lancs but it was frustrating to get out to him!”

Ken Grime

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