Jennings hits century as Lancs edge ahead
Keaton Jennings hit his sixth first-class century for Lancashire but Warwickshire fought their way back into the game with a flurry of wickets during the second half of the third day at Emirates Old Trafford which ended with the Red Rose 42 runs ahead in this LV= Insurance County Championship match.
Resuming on 127-0, Luke Wells and Jennings advanced their partnership to 166 during the first hour with Jennings quickly into his stride hitting some well-struck boundaries.
Wells had added ten runs to his overnight 70 before chipping a catch back to the bowler, Danny Briggs.
Josh Bohannon helped Jennings push the score along steadily to 241-1 either side of lunch with Jennings reaching three figures immediately after the break when driving slow left-arm spinner Briggs for four through extra cover.
It was a great effort from Jennings who confessed he had struggled to “get his feet going” during the initial stages of his first innings of the season yesterday.
But the left-handed opener’s resilience and experience paid off as he timed the ball nicely and prospered through the morning to post his 21st career century off 233 balls with 13 fours.
That meant Jennings had scored centuries in last two innings; his previous knock before being injured was the 132 he scored against Yorkshire at Headingley last July.
And he soon lost his batting partner when Bohannon edged Olly Hannon-Dalby to Rob Yates at first slip for 23 and Warwickshire hit back well with the second new ball from that point taking seven wickets for 94 runs.
Steven Croft was well caught by Chris Benjamin at gully off Craig Miles for a duck and Jennings quickly followed for 110 after edging Hannon-Dalby to Sam Hain at second slip.
Dane Vilas and Phil Salt played some good counter-attacking shots, taking 14 off one Briggs over with Vilas launching the spinner for six over long-on, to steer Lancashire to 296-4 in the 101st over.
That raised the prospect of an assault on reaching 350 by the 110th over and further batting points but those aspirations were dealt a savage blow by Nathan McAndrew.
The Aussie pace bowler, who had gone 0-100 on debut at Taunton last week, produced a great spell to grab his first wickets for the Bears, starting when Salt drove to Will Rhodes positioned at wide mid-off to be out for 26.
George Balderson helped Vilas take Lancashire into the lead by tea but succumbed to McAndrew soon after the break, fending off a sharply rising delivery to Hain in the gully.
Luke Wood edged a drive off Briggs to Will Rhodes at slip for 1 before McAndrew struck twice more; Vilas nicking to wicketkeeper Michael Burgess for 41 and Hassan Ali finding Yates at first slip for 4, the bowler’s fourth wicket in 47 balls.
Tom Bailey and Matt Parkinson held up Warwickshire’s push to end the innings with a last wicket partnership of 26 in 14 overs before Parkinson was last out for 9, lbw to Hannon-Dalby.
Fifteen overs were still to be bowled at that point, but only three were completed before bad light ended the day early with time for Alex Davies to move off a ‘pair’ by driving Bailey for four.
They were the only runs scored as Warwickshire closed 42 runs in arrears.
“Delighted and relieved,” was Keaton Jennings reaction to his century.
“It’s been a long time since I stepped onto a professional field,” he explained. “So I was delighted to get a good score today and get us into a position where we can push and try and get a result.
Jennings revealed he had struggled early yesterday.
“I was fairly uncomfortable,” he said. “Just trying to get the rhythms of playing again (was difficult).
“Today things just clicked a little bit better which was quite nice.
“Thankfully a ball or two hit the middle of the bat, so I was very thankful and very relieved!”
And Jennings was quick to praise the work of medical staff.
“Sometimes they are guys who don’t the praise they deserve,” he said.
“They are the guys who turn up here after 12-13 days away on the bounce at 8am.
“Sam Byrne has been working on my calves and I’ve got to thank those guys for putting the time in to me and get me into a space where I can go out and play.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow Jennings said: “we are 42 runs ahead, the ball is still in our favour but we’ve got a lot of hard work to do.
“But you saw when they took the second new ball, it did deviate.
“Hopefully the heavy roller won’t have too much an effect and hopefully we can strike with that new ball and create a bit of panic. If we get fire out a couple, who knows, it could be anyone’s game.
“Come the last session if we can have a bit of a run chase and put our foot on the gas. We are willing to do that. We want to win games of cricket.”
Photos: Luke Adams