Late drama as Lancs clinch first win
Lancashire clinched a thrilling victory against Northamptonshire in an absorbing, and at times dramatic, LV= Insurance County Championship encounter that went to the last hour before Matt Parkinson finally ended a determined six-hour rear-guard action by former Red Rose player Luke Procter to seal a 206-run win.
While that may have been tough on Procter and his Northants team-mates, it was a deserved reward for a Red Rose side that had enjoyed much the better of the game over four days and stuck to their task during a sometimes tough final day.
Procter led a great quest for survival, batting through the day to be last man out for 93 before they finally succumbed for 218 just after 5.15pm. It proved to be a hard day’s graft for the Lancashire bowlers on a good wicket that eased up during the final afternoon after three wickets in the morning session had suggested a possible earlier denouement.
"We got into a good position in the game,” said Lancashire Head Coach Glen Chapple.
“But as it often does here it became quite difficult to force the win as the pitch got quite tired but not uneven.
“The best thing I saw today was a massive effort from the lads to get over the line.
"The second session was the problem: they had a good partnership and Procter played really well and held us up. It tested our resolve and it's something you prepare for all winter to make sure you're up for challenges like that. The lads came through brilliantly.”
Procter and Ricardo Vasconcelos, resuming with Northants 59-3, batted steadily through the first thirty minutes to advance their overnight partnership to fifty but Vilas’ decision to turn to spin brought immediate reward when Parkinson bowled Vasconcelos, attempting a reverse sweep, for 35 with just his second delivery of the day.
And, in a double bowling change, Luke Wood backed up that breakthrough with the wicket of Adam Rossington from his ninth delivery of the morning when the Northants skipper edged a defensive push to Keaton Jennings at first slip for 8.
Saif Zaib followed seven overs later when Parkinson trapped the left hander lbw for 4 with another big turning leg-break to leave Northants 96-6.
Meanwhile Procter dug in at the opposite end, doubling his score to 30 during the morning session and going on reach his half century from 189 balls that including just 3 fours and one six.
He was joined by Tom Taylor, who also batted with great resilience, in a defiant partnership of 56 that spanned 36 overs well into the afternoon.
Just when Red Rose thoughts were turning towards the new ball, this stubborn 7th wicket alliance was broken from an unlikely source.
Rob Jones had only one first-class wicket to his name from a total of 15 overs, but his second delivery here was superb, turning past Taylor’s defensive lunge and dragging the batsman just far enough forward to allow Alex Davies to complete a smart stumping.
Nathan Buck helped Procter reach tea on 182-7 and the pair progressed steadily along after the resumption until Wood struck in dramatic fashion with two wickets in two balls during the 97th over.
Buck gloved the fifth ball of the over down the leg side to Davies, breaking a 44-run partnership that more importantly, from a Lancashire perspective, had occupied 18 overs.
The left arm quick then produced a superb inswinging yorker to bowl Simon Kerrigan first ball and leave the visitors on 196-9 with 22 overs left to play.
And Parkinson, who returned match figures of 6-88, clinched a thrilling victory when he ended Procter’s six hour vigil from a bat/pad catch by Steven Croft at backward short leg with 13.3 overs of the game left.
"Parky has had a long winter but the plus side is he has had a lot of time bowling which was probably preferable to bowling in our indoor centre for four months,” said Chapple.
“Mentally I'm sure it has been tough for him not playing any cricket. He came back to us with five days to go before the season and had to quarantine. It was freezing and snowing and it wasn't ideal for leg spin so unfortunately for him he didn't make the first game.
“He has now had a strong performance in this game and he benefitted the team and has been great for us this week.
“It's a challenge to get spinners in early season cricket in England sometimes but here (Emirates Old Trafford) is as good a place as any."
Lancashire first win of the season brought 21 points, and the team next travel to Canterbury for their next LV= Insurance County Championship match against Kent, starting on Thursday.