County Championship Lancashire v Warwickshire May 5-8

At Old Trafford Neil Whitaker reports

Day 1

WARWICKSHIRE’s Dom Sibley hit his first Championship century since September 2019 when he hit 109 against  Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge which followed 215 in the first innings.

His last first class century also came at Emirates Old Trafford in the 2020 test match against West Indies.  He reached his century, which came off 227 balls in five hours with 13 fours,  when he punched George Balderson off the back foot into the covers for a single.  Of the five partners he batted with in reaching his century only his opening partner Alex Davies failed to get a start.

Sibley edged Luke  Wood along the ground through the slips to the third man boundary which was the nearest he came to giving a chance.  He brought up his fifty when he nudged Wood to mid on for a single to bring up his fifty from 113 balls with seven fours. He clipped an out of sorts Hassan Ali off his legs to the square leg boundary.

He glanced Tom  Bailey off his legs  to the fine leg boundary.  A straight drive by Sibley off Matt Parkinson had umpire Graham Lloyd scampering out of the way. He swivelled round and  pulled Parkinson, Hassan at backward square leg parried it to the boundary.

Bailey said: “We knew that there was going to be something in the pitch early on. Sibley is a good player and the wicket was good and it helped him.”

Lancashire got off to the perfect start as they sought to get revenge for their thrashing by Warwickshire in the Bob Willis trophy final last September when the match was as good as over in the first hour of a five day match.  

Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes won the toss and decided to bat but they soon lost a wicket. Former Lancashire player Davies didn’t have a happy return to Emirates Old Trafford.  He struggled to lay his bat on Bailey but when he offered no shot to Bailey’s eighth ball it clattered into his off stump.  They both made their Championship debut against Surrey at Liverpool Davies was 17 and Bailey was 21.

Rob Yates was beginning to look good but 13 overs later he played over a full length ball from Wood and lost his off stump.

Sam Hain joined Sibley and the pair looked good and confident, Hain  straight drove Balederson to the James Anderson end boundary.  In the next over he pushed at Wood and the whole slip cordon went up for a catch to stumper Phil  Salt but umpire Lloyd was unmoved. Wood took his frustration out with the next ball which was wide and fast and went for four byes.

Parkinson struck with his last ball of his first over after being introduced into the attack.  Warwickshire must have had a plan to go after him. A rare sign of aggression from Hain, saw him go  down the wicket and chipped him to substitute Rob Jones at short extra cover. With Sibley they added 82 in 23 overs.  

Parkinson bowled two consecutive full tosses off Parkinson to the mid wicket boundary, the latter was a brute of a shot the former was delicately placed.  He got his second wicket when he bowled Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes with one that kept low.  Rhodes expected the ball to bounce higher and played back to it.

The loss of those two wickets for 24 runs in 10 overs looked to have put Lancashire in the driving seat. But we’re faced with Chris Benjamin who on his last  first class appearance at Emirates Old Trafford hit  127  after coming in at seven for one as they denied Lancashire a victory.  Today with Sibley, he stubbornly defied the Lancashire attack until there were nine overs left in the day when on 47 he tried to turn Bailey to leg but missed the ball.  They added 99 in 37 overs.

Bailey got his third wicket when Michael Burgess, who hit a quick fire 19 off four balls with four fours, played across the line and was leg before. Danny  Briggs came and went in the blink of an eye, he presented a straight bat to Hassan who found the edge of his bat and Keaton  Jennings at second slip took a comfortable catch.

He added: “We were debating when we would take the new ball, with them being seven down we could be batting by 12.00.  If I am not hitting the right lengths I don't feel that I am worth my place in the side because I am not doing my job for the team.

It feels like a good wicket to me and we always say that the second day is the best to bat here.”

Turned down the chance to tour with England lions during the winter and worked on his game at the indoor centre.

Day 2

LANCASHIRE were in a commanding position before bad light and then rain forced play to be abandoned at 5.20 with 35 overs lost from the day’s play.

Openers Luke Wells and Keaton Jennings had taken the Lancashire score to 127 before they were taken off the field.  They had a tricky pre-lunch period of 35 minutes  to negotiate which they did without conceding a wicket. Both Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Craig Miles bowled to good lines in particular Hannon-Dalby whose first five overs included four maidens. 

After lunch it was a different story, in the  first five overs Warwickshire conceded 22 runs.  Wells stepped on the accelerator and easily outscored his partner Jennings, reaching his fifty with a crunching drive off  Danny Briggs through the covers for a couple to bring up his fifty off 90 balls with nine fours.

Wells said: “I feel like I’ve batted a lot with Jennings, 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.  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.”

To build pressure the bowlers peppered Wells and Jennings with short balls and Warwickshire thought their plan  had worked when Wells tried to pull Nathan McAndrew and the ball flew to Alex  Davies at backward short leg. As the Warwickshire players celebrated, umpire Nigel Llong ruled that the ball had hit his arm.

Wells added: “McAndrew tried to cause some problems with extra pace, banging the ball in short and it was quite dark, so it was really pleasing to lose no wickets so far.”

Dom Sibley  carried his bat for the fourth time in his Warwickshire career with a 259 minute 142 from 329 balls with 18 fours.  On the second day he lost three partners but Sibley guided his team to three batting points.

Play started on time under overcast conditions and Lancashire struck early in the fourth over when McAndrew on the move played around a straight ball from Hassan Ali and was leg before.

In his next over Hassan got his second wicket of the morning when Miles played straight and got an inside edge to stumper Phil  Salt.

Hanson-Dalby, on one, clipped Luke  Wood off his legs to Steven Croft at short leg but he hit the ball hard that  it rebounded off his chest and Croft couldn’t react quickly enough to take the catch.  Sibley, lost Hannon-Dalby who pushed forward at Matt Parkinson who beat Hannon-Dolby’s push, leaving Lancashire to bat for 35 minutes before lunch. 

Wells said: “The bowlers have been unbelievable, 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 Wood is great, Tom Bailey never misses top of off stump and Parkinson  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.

The pitch is really flat and for them to choose to bat first and for us to bowl them out for 315 I think we did really well”.

Day 3

AUSSIE paceman Nathan McAndrew came back well in the afternoon session and took four wickets after he had bowled 19 overs without a wicket  to restrict the Lancashire lead to 46.

McAndrew wasn’t afraid to put his back into his work and had bowled well on the shortened second day and in the morning session without any luck but he came back with a vengeance in the afternoon. His first victim for Warwickshire came  in his 20th over when Phil Salt chipped him to  captain Will Rhodes at mid off.  Salt had a life on seven when he drove Danny Briggs but substitute Jake Lintott at mid on couldn’t get the ball to stick as he dived forward.

The Aussie got his second wicket when a full length ball spat, squared George Balderson up and took the shoulder of his bat. Sam Hain, at a third slip took the catch diving forward.  Lancashire captain Dane Vilas looked set to get a big score or at the very least 50.  But he fell nine short when top edged a cut off McAndrew to stumper Michael Burgess.

McAndrew got his fourth wicket when Hassan Ali played a nothing shot to him and edged McAndrew to Rob  Yates at first slip who took a simple catch.  Matt Parkinson drove McAndrew to Alex Davies in the covers who dove for the ball but couldn’t take the catch but as he fell the ball rebounded and hit him in the face.

He said: “We were staring down the barrel this morning with them on 100 for none and we knew that if we didn’t take wickets then we would be behind the game.  I thought it was a great performance by all the bowling group but we’ve still got a lot of work to do with the bat.  It’s a flat wicket and the top order have a tough job to do with the bat. So there is no chance we can win because  I can’t see us scoring enough runs to leave us enough time to bowl them out.”

At lunch with Lancashire 93 behind with nine wickets left the talk was off how many more do Lancashire need before declaring and giving themselves 45 minutes at the visitors' batters. Keaton Jennings, playing his first championship match for nine months, hit a century.  He drove Danny Briggs to the extra cover boundary to bring up his sixth first class century for Lancashire and his 21st in total. His last championship century was against  Yorkshire at Headingley when he hit 132 and his last Championship century at Emirates Old Trafford was also against Yorkshire last year when he  made 114.

In the morning session his opening partner Luke Wells clattered Oliver Hannon-Darby to the long on boundary. Warwickshire finally got a breakthrough on the stroke on noon when Wells drove Briggs who dived to his right to take the catch at least a foot from the ground. Wells stood his ground thinking he had hit the ball into the ground but after the umpires consulted Wells was on his way.  Jennings said: “He was out.”

After lunch the new ball did the trick for Warwickshire with three quick wickets as Lancashire lost them for 10 runs in 36 balls. First Warwickshire broke the partnership between Bohannon and Jennings.  Hannon-Dalby squared Josh  Bohannon up, found his edge and Rob Yates at first slip took a good low catch. The pair added 75 in 29 overs.

Steven Croft survived a confident leg before on his first ball, but he didn’t capitalise on his good luck. Without scoring a run he pushed at Craig Miles and edged him to Chris Benjamin, at gully, who took a great catch.

Jennings edged a straight ball from Hannon-Darby and Hain at second slip took the catch.

Vilas nudged McAndrew into the leg side for a single to take Lancashire into the lead but instead building a sizable lead they lost wickets.  Luke Wood edged a drive off Briggs to Rhodes at slip with Lancashire’s on 16.

Parkinson drove McAndrew to Davies in the covers who dove for the ball but couldn’t take the catch but as he fell the ball rebounded and hit him in the face. Hanson-Dolby returned to the attack and got his third wicket when he trapped Parkinson leg before to end a 10 wicket partnership of 25 with Bailey.

Trailing by 46 runs the Warwickshire openers faced three overs scoring four runs before the umpires took the players off the field for bad light.

Day 4

WARWICKSHIRE’s Chris Benjamin and Danny Briggs defied the Lancashire bowlers for 20 overs, adding 48 to draw with Lancashire.

When they came together Warwickshire had lost three wickets for runs in five overs and Lancashire smelt the chance of victory.  Top scorer Rob Yates hit his first Championship fifty of the season in six attempts, compared with five hundreds last season, he brought his fifty up when he drove Luke Wood through the covers for three.  His fifty came from 148 balls with six fours.  

His 187 minute  defiant innings of 55  ended when  Lancashire picked up their third wicket of the afternoon when Wood  brought one in kept low and bowled him.   He was soon followed back in the hutch by Warwickshire captain Will  Rhodes and Michael Burgess.  

Matt Parkinson should have bowled Rhodes for one he turned a ball that missed everything. Parkinson did get the Warwickshire captain when he landed another one in the rough that glanced Rhodes’ bat as he pushed forward and Keaton Jennings at leg slip took a tumbling catch to his right.  

Without adding to the score Warwickshire lost their sixth wicket with a classic leg break bowler’s ball.  It pitched on off stump,  turned in, brushed Burgess’ pad and bowled him.when Warwickshire had lost three wickets for four runs in five overs.

Could  Briggs and Benjamin survive the final session when they faced the hostile bowling of Hassan Ali, Wood, the crafty leg spin off Parkinson and plenty of chirp.  But Briggs wasn’t bothered as  he uppercut Hassan over the slips to the third man boundary and squeezed the next ball out for another boundary.  He glanced Wood off his legs just evading Dane Vilas’ outstretched right hand at leg slip and the ball ran to the boundary.

When play started on the final morning there were only two results possible: a Lancashire win or a draw.  The Lancashire bowlers bowled so well in the morning session that Warwickshire only scored 81 runs in 30 overs for the loss of Alex Davies who was dismissed for the second time in the match by his old mate Tom Bailey.  In the fourth over of the day Bailey got a bit of life from the pitch and took the edge to Jennings at second slip.

By restricting Warwickshire in the morning the visitors wouldn’t have a big enough lead to declare early if they lost wickets, which they did in the afternoon session when they lost four wickets.

The Lancashire bowlers didn’t give Dom  Sibley and Yates  any loose balls that they could easily score off.  Sibley drove Wood to the extra cover boundary to take Warwickshire into the lead in the 22nd over of the morning. In the next 11 overs they had extended their lead to 39. 

That boundary started a frenzy of Warwickshire boundaries in the context of the morning, later in the over he squeezed Wood through backward point for another boundary to bring Warwickshire’s fifty.  The boundaries kept coming when Yates clattered Parkinson to the mid wicket boundary.

In the afternoon session Lancashire broke the second wicket partnership between Sibley and Yates who added 78 in 33 overs. Sibley became the first of Parkinson’s three victims when he pushed forward at Parkinson who took a fine edge into stumper Phil Salt’s hands.  Sibley faced 101 balls for his 41 and for much of the early part of their partnership he was prepared to let Yates do the scoring. But just before lunch Sibley swept Parkinson to the fine leg boundary as he eventually overtook Yates.  

Sam Hain did well to keep Parkinson out when the ball died on him. But on six he was back in the hutch when a fast in swinging yorker from Hassan wrapped him on his pads. Hain was on his way back just as  umpire Graham Lloyd was raising his finger.  Hassan celebrated by beating his chest.

Warwickshire’s head coach Mark Robinson said: “Sibley has looked hard at his game and has worked hard at it because he wants to get back in the England side.  The conditions on the first day weren’t but he stuck at it and he felt a lot more confident as the day went on.

He added: “ It was a hard fought game, we probably got the toss wrong  and we got a competitive score.  In the end we showed a lot of character and we go away with our heads held high.

I thought that Nathan McAndrew got better and better but you have to remember that this was only his 10th first class game.  With the other three seamers he got us back in the game when we were looking down the barrel.”

Lancashire’s head coach Glen Chapple said: “We played well and worked very hard.

We put in a good effort, produced our skills with the ball, but we lost over a session and a half to rain so coming in today a result was unlikely but we still believed there was a chance. I thought we pushed Warwickshire hard. The bowlers worked tirelessly and put Warwickshire under pressure on a reasonably unresponsive pitch. 

“The only thing we would normally do better is to extend a bigger first innings lead. We built a good platform and would normally want to get a bigger first innings score. Having lost that time we were mindful that we needed to increase the scoring rate a little bit and in trying to that we came a bit unstuck. 

“We were pleased how we bowled on that pitch but I thought they were a bit negative. As soon as the new ball had gone they were bowling to defensive fields. I think they made their mind up early on they were going to try and restrict the scoring and stop us getting a lead. I thought we pushed it and tried to win the game. “

Jennings was delighted and relieved, after scoring his century on the third day. “It’s been a long time since I stepped onto a professional field,” he explained. “So I was delighted to get a good score yesterday and got us into a position where we could push on to try and get a result.”

He revealed he had struggled early in his innings. “I was fairly uncomfortable, just trying to get the rhythms of playing again was difficult.  On Saturday 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!” 


May 7, 2022 11:17 pm

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