Lancashire facing defeat after following-on against Essex
Lancashire are facing a first defeat of the season in this LV= County Championship match against Essex after being made to follow-on on the third day at Emirates Old Trafford.
Behind on first innings by 288 runs after being bowled out for 103, the Red Rose reached the close on 213-9 in their second innings and still need 75 runs tomorrow to make the visitors bat again with just that one wicket left.
Captain Dane Vilas led from the front with an enterprising half-century during the afternoon and evening to give the Red Rose side a glimmer of hope in taking the game deep into the final day.
But Essex struck three late blows to put themselves on the verge of an innings victory when play resumes tomorrow.
Starting this morning on 32-5 and 347 runs in arrears, Lancashire were bundled out for 103 just before lunch with the excellent Sam Cook leading the Essex attack with 4-18.
The only note of defiance came from Phil Salt with 44 that included a pulled six way over deep square leg off Shane Snater and 21 from Luke Wood.
Once Wood - who twice drove Sam Cook for four at the start of the day – and Tom Bailey had departed in quick succession to the Essex paceman, it became a matter of whether Lancashire would make it through the extended morning session before having to bat again.
Salt did his best to delay the inevitable, battling for two hours, before falling lbw to Matt Critchley and on the same score of 103 last man Matt Parkinson holed out to deep square leg off Simon Harmer for 14 twenty minutes before the interval.
Following-on for the first time since 2017, Luke Wells and Keaton Jennings first had to survive a tricky ten minutes to bat. But, having reached the break successfully, Jennings lost his leg stump to Jamie Porter in the second over of the afternoon.
Josh Bohannon and Wells mounted a strong rear-guard action across 17 overs that added 33 runs before Bohannon popped up a bat/pad catch to Nick Browne at short leg off Simon Harmer for 14.
Then Wells, having fought hard for two hours pulled a short ball from Sam Cook straight to Paul Walter at square leg for 19 to leave Lancashire on 43-3.
Steven Croft and Dane Vilas negotiated their way to tea and came out after the interval with some positive intent, attacking spinner Harmer in particular with Vilas thumping one six over long-on and Croft sweeping effectively.
But that shot eventually proved to be Croft’s undoing after he had made a 112-ball 39 when he top edged Harmer to Sam Cook at backward square leg to end a fruitful partnership of 78 runs with Vilas for the fourth wicket.
Vilas continued to attack whenever possible, reaching a 79-ball half century by driving Harmer to the long-on boundary and followed that with four more through extra cover in the same over.
It was just the sort of innings his side needed and Salt was a willing accomplice in a 55-run partnership with some aggressive shots before bottom edging Critchley to wicketkeeper Adam Rossington after contributing 31.
Harmer backed that up that breakthrough with two more late wickets, striking a huge blow by trapping Vilas lbw for 62 three overs later and then having nightwatchman Parkinson taken by Nick Browne at bat/pad.
Those wickets led to the umpires allowing thirty minutes additional time and armed with the second new ball Sam Cook had Tom Bailey caught at deep backward square leg by Paul Walter for 10 and Harmer grabbed a fifth when Hassan Ali found sub fielder Aaron Beard at deep midwicket.
Wood (13 not out) and James Anderson (0 not out) held out to reach the close of play at 7pm.
“It’s been a disappointing day,” admitted Steven Croft.
“We wanted a reaction after our first innings and we had a couple of good partnerships, but on the whole we’re disappointed in the position we’ve ended up in tonight.
“We wanted to have got much closer to their total with fewer wickets down.”
It’s the first time the Red Rose batting line-up has failed to perform this season after putting up some big totals in the previous games.
“It’s not what we’ve been about this season,” agreed Croft. It’s a blip and we’re really disappointed with it.
“Essex did the damage with the ball in the first innings. I thought it was a really good opening spell from all their bowlers. There was no respite.
“In the second innings it was mainly down to Harmer and the pressure he built up.”
With a break from the four-day competition after tomorrow, Croft added:
“I think in 75-80% of the games we’ve played some good cricket so far. On the whole we’ve done really well.
“Plenty of people have put their hands up with bat and ball, so it’s not been down to a few individuals and the batting unit have done really well except for this game.
“They’ve put some big numbers up and the bowling unit have put in some great shifts on placid pitches.”
Photos: George Franks & Luke Adams