Lancashire lose to Notts in dramatic last day battle
Lancashire fell to a 102-run defeat against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge despite a career-best 77 from George Balderson and a record-breaking ninth wicket partnership between Danny Lamb and Tom Bailey in a hard-fought contest at Trent Bridge that went into the final hour of the match.
Balderson had defied the Nottinghamshire bowlers for more than five hours to give Lancashire hope of batting out the final day.
But, in a pivotal moment, the 20 year-old left-handed batsman fell to a stunning catch by Dane Paterson from the last ball of the 80th over midway through the afternoon.
A buoyant home attack, armed with the second new ball, knocked over three Red Rose wickets in quick succession but they were then made to work extremely hard following a 108-run partnership between Lamb and Bailey that nearly took Lancashire to an unlikely draw.
But Bailey finally succumbed to a terrific delivery from Paterson and the injured Saqib Mahmood, batting with a runner, was caught via bat/pad off Brett Hutton as Notts finally wrapped up victory at 5.20pm with 11.1 overs to spare.
The hosts had struck an early blow after Lancashire had resumed in the morning on 115-1 when Luke Wells nicked a Paterson delivery to wicketkeeper Tom Moores for 59, ending his fruitful partnership of 117 with Balderson.
Josh Bohannon picked up two boundaries, the second a lovely cover drive off Luke Fletcher, but they were his only scoring shots in a 30-ball stay that ended when he was lbw to big in-swinging delivery from Paterson.
Dane Vilas also went lbw for 3 to Hutton but Balderson and Rob Jones defended stoutly to reach lunch on 170-4, Balderson going to his half-century from 114 balls and posting his best score when driving Hutton through cover to reach 65.
The pair continued in similar vein after the break, compiling a 46 partnership that more importantly took 25 overs as Lancashire fought to bat all day for the draw.
It looked like there was a real prospect of that happening as the home attack toiled in the sweltering afternoon sunshine and the approaching second new ball looked like their best opportunity to make a breakthrough with Lancashire on 192-4 with just over half of the day left.
Instead that came from the last delivery with the old ball, Liam Patterson-White dropping a fraction short and Balderson hammering the spinner towards square leg before standing in a mixture of astonishment and disappointment as Paterson took a sensational catch low to his right and was instantly mobbed by his jubilant team-mates.
It was a tough end to a fine innings from Balderson who had showed great determination, concentration and technique and probably deserved greater reward.
Buoyed by that breakthrough and armed with the new ball the Notts bowlers took three wickets with the score on 210; Jones bowled by Fletcher for 33 to end his determined 98-ball innings, Steven Croft caught at second slip off Paterson for 6 and George Lavelle lbw to Fletcher for 0.
An early finish looked to be on the cards with 48 overs left but Lamb and Bailey had other ideas. Both made half-centuries and set a new ninth-wicket record partnership for Lancashire against Nottinghamshire, beating the previous record of 87 between Bill Huddleston and Harry Dean at Old Trafford in 1909.
The runs were fairly unimportant as Lancashire were never close to chasing down their 444-run target but the ninth wicket alliance spanned 30 overs and one ball in nearly two hours to frustrate the hosts and increase the tension as the game went into its final hour.
Sadly it was not to be and Nottinghamshire were left to celebrate a victory that takes them to the top of the Division One table, 17.5 points ahead of Lancashire with two games to play.
The first of those is against Somerset at Taunton starting at 10.30am.
Photos: Daniel Adams