Century partnership gives Lancashire good platform in Bears clash
An unbroken century partnership for the first wicket between Luke Wells and Keaton Jennings backed up some good work by the bowlers on a rain-shortened second day to give Lancashire a good platform against Warwickshire in this LV= County Championship match.
Wells and Jennings, opening together for the first time, compiled a very handy 127-run partnership before bad light and then rain ended play early at 3.50pm before the abandonment for the day at 5.20pm.
Wells looked to be in great touch, driving crisply and emphatically as he stroked 12 boundaries in his unbeaten 70 while Jennings, playing his first match of the season, was understandably much more circumspect and took time to settle in given the hamstring injury that had side-lined the left handed batter until now.
Wells reached his second half century of the season from 90 balls at the end of the 30th over with a total of 85 on the scoreboard, having produced some impressive drives through the arc between point and mid-off.
Once settled, Jennings too started to find his range, striking six fours in his unbeaten 44.
It was the perfect start to the Lancashire reply before the weather intervened after 42 overs, the ball after Wells had lofted off-spinner Rob Yates to the long-on boundary to take the total to 127 and 188 runs behind the visitors’ first innings total.
Lancashire would have been pleased to have wrapped up the Warwickshire innings inside 75 minutes for the addition of 42 runs at the start of the day.
With century-maker Dom Sibley well set the Red Rose bowlers focused their attack on the tailenders and it didn’t take long for that tactic to bear fruit as Hassan Ali had Nathan McAndrew (15) and Craig Miles (4) trapped lbw to leave the visitors on 288-9.
Last man Olly Hannon-Dalby defended well in support of Sibley who went for his shots wherever possible and the pair garnered a third batting point before Matt Parkinson (3-60) bowled Hannon-Dalby for 3 leaving Sibley stranded on 142 – the opener carrying his bat for the fourth time for the Bears – with Warwickshire 315 all out.
“The pitch is really flat and for them to choose to bat first and for us to bowl them out for 315, we’ve done really well,” was Luke Wells’ close of play assessment before going on to hail the work of the Red Rose attack.
“The bowlers have been unbelievable,” he added. “They kept coming back for second, third and fourth spells and they never let Warwickshire get a scoring rate that was threatening to us.”
“To have that extra pace of Hassan and Woody is great,” he said, “and Tom Bailey never misses top of off (stump) and Parky spins it a long way. It gives us an ability to take wickets on flat pitches and we’ve won two games on really flat tracks already this season.”
It was Hassan Ali who provided the inspiration this morning, with Wells saying: “Hassan has bowled a serious amount of overs in four matches and after bowling twenty overs yesterday he was still running in and bowling proper pace. It’s been remarkable to watch him work.”
Wells enjoyed his partnership with Keaton Jennings at the top of the order.
“I feel like I’ve batted a lot with Keats,” he said. “He’s played a lot of cricket so we keep each other quite calm out there, don’t get too flustered and it was really enjoyable.
“We call each other ‘the twins’,” he laughed. “Obviously we are both tall left-handed batters but we score in slightly different areas and our pace of play is different.
“He’s a more natural rotator and player of spin than I am, but I might score slightly quicker against certain fast bowlers. It ebbs and flows differently throughout the game.”
The deterioration of the weather provided another challenge during the afternoon.
“(Nathan) McAndrew tried to cause some problems with extra pace, banging the ball in (short) and it was quite dark,” admitted Wells. “So it was really pleasing to lose no wickets so far.”
And looking ahead to the remaining two days Wells added: “It’s a shame we lost some time today. I think we need as many deliveries as possible to try and force a result in this game. 315 is not a small total to get a long way past.”
“Hopefully we can bat once, see where we are at the back end of the day (tomorrow) and if we have an opportunity on day four to try and put their batsmen under pressure.
“But at the moment we have to take it one step at a time. “
Photos: George Franks