Bailey career-best keeps Lancs in title hunt
Tom Bailey led Lancashire to a fabulous comeback victory after his five-wicket haul helped skittle Kent for 127 to clinch a fifth LV= County Championship success of the season by 184 runs and keep the Red Rose in the title hunt with three games to go.
It was a stunning turnaround after Lancashire had conceded a 125-run first innings deficit on day two of the match and becomes the second match in a row that Lancashire have won after being behind by more than one hundred runs during last week’s win at Northampton.
Lancashire added 59 runs in the first 50 minutes of play with George Lavelle striking a run-a-ball 30 and Rob Jones finishing unbeaten on 65 before Steven Croft called a halt, setting Kent a target of 312 runs to win from a minimum of 82 overs.
And the Red Rose bowlers then made early inroads to the Kent top order for the second time in the match.
Bailey produced a rising delivery that Zak Crawley could only nick behind to Lavelle behind the stumps, a seaming Will Williams delivery also induced an edge behind from Ben Compton with the same bowler next trapping Joe Denly lbw for 0 to leave Kent 10-3.
Daniel Bell-Drummond and Jack Leaning survived the remainder of the session and fought back with a 62-run alliance well into the afternoon.
But Leaning became the fourth wicket to fall after being given out caught behind for 15 from the spin of Washington Sundar although the stand-in Kent skipper appeared unhappy with the decision.
Washington then produced a high class piece of spin bowling, turning the ball from well outside off on to Ben Cox’s stumps leaving Kent in trouble on 74-5 and with 52 overs still to negotiate.
Bell-Drummond and Ollie Robinson mounted a good rear-guard effort to keep the Red Rose attack at bay in a partnership of 31 across 13 overs but two wickets by Bailey just before tea proved decisive.
Robinson’s resistance ended when he was trapped in front for 21 followed by Grant Stewart who edged behind to Lavelle for 0.
It took just twenty minutes after the break for Lancashire to wrap up a fine victory as the final three Kent wickets fell for one run; Matt Henry stumped off Washington before Bailey yorked Nathan Gilchrist and castled Navdeep Saini on his way to career-best match figures of 11-110.
Kent’s lone resistance came from Daniel Bell-Drummond who finished unbeaten on 69 from 151 balls but found nobody able to stay with him and deny Lancashire – or Bailey.
“It was a bit of a different win this week,” said Head Coach Glen Chapple reflecting on Lancashire’s consecutive comeback victory today.
“The pitch had been used for the one-day international last Friday so it was going to be a good surface. There was a lot of poor weather around over the weekend, and then we lost the toss so it was difficult batting on day one.
“When you get bowled out on day one it doesn’t look great, but it did a fair bit.
“I don’t think I’ve got any qualms about any of our performance.
“We knew that how we were set up meant that if we played good cricket we could still get back into the game and have a chance of forcing a result on the last day.
“I thought we played really well all the way through the game.”
Lancashire’s second innings effort with the bat started the comeback and Chapple said:
“We had some good knocks in the second innings. Wellsy built a partnership with Keaton (Jennings) and then Bosh (Josh Bohannon) played superbly well. He’s back to his style of play and everyone knows he’s got great talent. I’m sure he’s enjoying it.
“We had good partnerships all the way through and the players showed real commitment to what we are trying to do.
“Jonesy played really well last night to keep the momentum of the innings and George (Lavelle) this morning got us off to a bit of a flyer.”
“It’s always tricky to know exactly when to pull out because it was still a decent pitch to bat on.”
Chapple also hailed the efforts of his bowling attack adding:
“Both Tom (Bailey) and Will (Williams) bowled superbly throughout the game. They complement each other well and Bails bowled terrifically well today.
“Mentally, to come back from that deficit takes a fair lot for a team.
“There was a lot of resolve shown by the team.”
And Chapple was taking a pragmatic view about the title run-in when the Championship returns in September.
“All we can do now is keep playing,” he said.
“There’s no pressure on us, it’s on Surrey and Hampshire. We will try and keep playing good, hard cricket and try to win as many games as we can.”
Photos: Barry Mitchell & Luke Adams