Mahmood inspires innings Roses victory
Lancashire conjured up a first Roses victory since 2011 with an outstanding bowling performance on the final day of this LV= Insurance County Championship match that ended with just 40 balls to spare in one of the most dramatic finale’s this age-old contest has seen.
The visitors, resuming on 85-2, had spent the day battling away to try and save a draw on a hot, sunny day at Emirates Old Trafford and entered the final hour with a realistic prospect of achieving their goal on 255-7 with Dom Bess and Jordan Thompson at the crease.
But an inspired spell from Saqib Mahmood, brought back with 10 overs left at the James Anderson end, changed all that with first Thompson and then Ben Coad out to catches by wicketkeeper Dane Vilas in the space of five balls.
That brace brought Mahmood (5-47) his maiden five-wicket haul and Emirates Old Trafford erupted when Bess edged Matt Parkinson (3-61) to Liam Livingstone at slip to seal a famous win.
The victory is Lancashire’s first innings victory over Yorkshire since 2007 and the first at Emirates Old Trafford since 1972 and only the second home innings victory against the White Rose side since 1913.
Lancashire take 22 points from the match and Yorkshire 1, with Lancashire top of the Group 3 table on 123 points, with Yorkshire second on 99 and Northants in 3rd place on 97.
“It’s possibly the best feeling I’ve had on a cricket field,” admitted a jubilant Mahmood.
“We said at tea we’ve been in this position before, grafting for wickets right at the end (of a game). And the boys just stuck at it.”
And Mahmood had a word of praise for the support the team have received this week with the return of spectators for the first time since 2019.
“It helped having a crowd in,” he said.
“I was really tired going into that last spell and then you pick up a wicket and the crowd really gets behind you.
“All of a sudden that tiredness is gone.
“And it feels a little bit better when that happens right at the end (of the match),” he grinned.
It was a day of highs and lows with wickets falling close together before long passages of play where little seemed to be happening as the batsmen were happy to occupy the crease without the need to worry unduly about the scoring rate, as the visitors fought hard for a draw.
After a reasonably quiet first half an hour, two wickets by Mahmood in 8 balls gave Lancashire early hope.
First the Red Rose pace bowler ripped out Will Fraine’s middle stump with a fast inswinging delivery and then in his next over knocked over nightwatchman Steve Patterson’s off stump with one that straightened up off the pitch to give Lancashire the early successes they were hoping for.
It was a great start by Mahmood whose first spell produced the impressive figures of 7-5-2-2 on a wicket that was offering hardly any help to the bowlers.
But Yorkshire pair George Hill and Harry Brook put up strong resistance for the remainder of the session, posting their 50 partnership off 151 balls in the last over before lunch.
Tom Bailey revived Red Rose hopes when bowling George Hill for 18 with his third delivery with the new ball immediately after the break, but a 27-over alliance between Brook and Dom Bess further frustrated Lancastrian hopes.
Just as the day reached the halfway stage, Brook-who had reached his fifth half-century of the season off 104 balls-misjudged a fuller ball from Parkinson to depart lbw for 52 with Yorkshire 180-6 and still 170 runs behind.
At that point, victory looked distinctly achieveable for Lancashire with 50 overs still to go but their hopes were dented by Bess and Harry Duke who dropped anchor to navigate the remaining 18 overs to tea-although Bess survived a drop at slip off Parkinson with 45 of the day’s overs still left.
Duke took 39 balls to get off the mark-to ironic cheers from the crowd-but run scoring by then was simply not the main concern of the visiting batsmen.
But having batted solidly through 28 overs for his 29 runs Duke was surprisingly bowled offering no shot to Luke Wood.
That dismissal, with 22 overs left, finally opened the door and Lancashire, led by Mahmood and Parkinson, took full advantage.
Asked to come back for one last spell Mahmood said: “The weather obviously helps-if it was cold I’m not sure I could have gone again!
“But Chappie had said, leave everything out there. And I did.
“But it was a great team effort. Everyone stuck to their team roles and did what was asked of them.
“I had more of an attacking role and it was nice that it paid off.
And Mahmood has finally got a five-wicket haul to his name.
“It was nice,” he admitted.
“ I’ve had a few four-fors and I was thinking it wasn’t going to come!
“And to do it in a Roses game makes it that extra special.”
Head Coach Glen Chapple hailed a special victory by his team.
“It’s a big game and we are in a good position in the table. And beating Yorkshire is obviously special to the players,” he said..
“It was a proper cricket pitch but more of a five-day pitch than a four-day one.
“To force a win on it required a massive effort from everybody.
“They needed to stick together through the last day because at one stage today it was looking unlikely (that we would win) but they keep coming through these testing times.
“So it was a massively satisfying win. Hopefully it builds confidence in each other and the team even further.
“Our performance on day one set up the game. It wasn’t a ‘seven down at lunch’ pitch. We bowled exceptionally well. Looking back I think we needed to do that to be able to force the result.
And Chapple echoed Mahmood’s comments regarding the support the team received during this match.
“It was amazing,” he said.
“To hear that level of support and have quite a lot of people here, they made a good noise and got behind the team.
“There were people in nearly every stand and the atmosphere they created was so much better.
“It was great and they looked like they enjoyed the day.”
Photos: Barry Mitchell & Luke Adams