Lancashire v Warwickshire at Old Trafford May 24-27

Neil Whitaker reports

Day 1

LANCASHIRE’S Tom Bailey took three wickets for 25  on the first day of their match against Warwickshire at Emirates Old Trafford which was shortened because of rain and bad light. 

So often Bailey has been the  Mr reliable of the Lancashire attack  but this season he has struggled for consistency, he has taken two wickets in an innings twice and his best  figures   before this match two for 60 at the Utilitarian Bowl in Southampton.

Bailey got his first wicket when Rob Yates left one from him  and saw his off stump cartwheeling out of the ground. He got  his second wicket in his second over after tea when bowling around the wicket he angled one in at Will Rhodes who had to play at it and stumper George Hurst took an easy catch.  Ed Barnard feathered Bailey through to Hurst and after a moment's hesitation umpire Ian Blackwell gave the decision in Bailey’s favour to become Bailey’s third victim.

Bailey said:”I thought we started pretty well. It's a good pitch and coming off a good win last week, we’ve taken that momentum into today. The pitch  looks very used  but I was quite surprised with the carry we had today. I think that’s due to the overhead conditions and the fact it’s rained so much in the last couple of days.

It’s a used pitch and I think our spinners will make the most of that and it will get harder to bat on as the game goes on.

It’s  not been a great start for me so  it was nice for coach Dale Benkenstein  to give me a break last week and work on a few things and it’s obviously paid off today. knew I wasn’t bowling how I normally do. So we felt it would be better to go and work on a few things.Having that week off, being able to clear my head and come back refreshed has helped.

The win last week was huge. We feel that we are in a good place. It’s the one percenters, the things have changed because the team and coaching staff have changed completely. So it’s just getting used to all those changes, because we feel that we are in a good environment to be able to be successful. It’s just going to take a bit of time.”

After morning rain washed out the morning’s play Warwickshire won the toss and decided to bat. Warwickshire captain Alex Davies was unbeaten on 47 when the rain came  has scored two big hundreds so far this season. 256 against Durham at Edgbaston and 149 against Hampshire at Southampton. On 13 the  former Lancashire player  pulled George Balderson to Jack Morley at mid wicket who couldn’t hold on to the chance.

He swept Nathan Lyon to the square leg boundary to take him into the forties.  After 13 overs Aussie Lyon was brought into the attack with the floodlights on and he nearly struck with his second ball.   Rhodes, on five,drove him and Lyon, bowling around the wicket, diving to his right couldn’t take the catch.

Davies said: “I’ve been looking forward to batting against Lyon because you want to play against the best players.  He’s not shy at letting you know that he’s played Tests for Australia and how many wickets he’s taken.  

The conditions were tricky and I’ve played here a good few years and I’ve not seen a pitch like that with some life grass on it so we had to graft for our runs.  They’ve got a world class spinner in Lyon. We’ve taken the aggressive option to bat first with an extra spinner and we back ourselves to get a good score and bowl them out.

Jokingly he added: “I tried to lose the toss.”

Day 2

WARWICKSHIRE  captain Alex Davies carried his bat for 127 but his team only earned one batting point but  by the close they had taken three  Lancashire wickets for 66.

It was his second championship  century against his former county but  his first century for Warwickshire against Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford his other was at Edgbaston in 2022 and his 10th in all.  To those who used to watch Davies play swashbuckling innings’ for Lancashire this wasn’t that type of innings. He was prepared to block and block on a worn pitch,  it took him 24 overs to hit his first boundary of the morning when he  cut Jack Morley to the point boundary.  He brought up his century, which came from 256 balls in 382 minutes and included 10 fours, when he cut Nathan Lyon to the point boundary.

He said: “It was very satisfying but I’ve never had to work as hard as that and to face that amount of balls but I had to grind it out.  Because the pitch was turgid it was difficult to score when the bowlers bowled straight.  But it was nice for me  to show that I can grind out a score when I have to  when the situation and  when the team requires it.

I think the score we got is a good score, it’s disappointing that we couldn’t get 300 but we lost our last three wickets very quickly, but I think it’s an above par score.   I thought Morley played well for them. He must be disappointed with the way he got out.

We come back tomorrow and we could have them 100 for six.  We’ve got four spinners and we’ll rotate them from one end.”

He survived two chances on 53.  With his partnership with  Jacob Bethel on 21,  Bethel drove Tom Aspinwall to Josh Bohannon at cover and set for a single then stopped and sent Davies back.  With  Davies a yard out a better throw would have had him. In the next over he swept Lyon through the hands of George Balderson at square leg.

Lancashire got an early wicket in the third  over of  the morning when Dan Mousley drove Balderson but edged it to Keaton Jennings at first slip who took a regulation catch. Morley playing his  first game for Lancashire since the last match of last season against Kent at Canterbury got his first of the innings in his seventh.  He changed ends with Lyon  and in his first over after lunch Bethell played back to one that kept low and was leg before.  His 40 came from 107 balls, included three fours and he added 74 in 32 overs with Davies.

He said: “After my first wicket there was a moment when I gave Jennings a hug and I thought 'it's great to be back'. That wicket meant a lot. The amount I've taken from Lyonstraight away is really good - he's been really approachable as he has been with all the lads which is all credit to him. I've taken a lot from him. 

To see how a world-class spinner goes about his business is an experience not many people get so I'm grateful for that.  Over the last two days I think we've done really well on the bowling front - the lads are happy and that's how they wanted to bowl. 

The seam bowlers bowled really well at the start of the day and then the spinners backed them up. 

It’s  a decent pitch but there's a bit in it for everyone but the wicket at the end there wasn't ideal."

Michael Burgess drove Tom Bailey for the cover boundary and repeated the shot to the next ball but after adding 42 in 12 overs he missed a straight ball from Balederson and was leg before.

On three, Jake Lintott edged Bailey and the ball flew to Tom Bruce at second slip in his midriff but the ball wouldn’t stick as he fell to the ground. He  reversed swept Lyon but gloved it to stumper George Hurst. 

After he blocked his first three balls Hassan Ali unleashed a trio of boundaries to get Warwickshire to the their first batting point in the 101st over.  He reversed swept Lyon to the third man boundary and smeared the next ball over long on for a six. He took a few paces down the pitch to the first ball after tea from Luke  Wells and smashed him over long on but he found Bruce who threw the ball back in the air as he was going over the boundary and caught at the second attempt. 

Michael Rae prodded for 10 balls without scoring until he missed a straight one to become Wells’ 100th first class victim. Last man Ollie Hannon-Dalby tried to turn  Morley to leg and was leg before. 

Hannon-Dalby struck with his second ball when Wells angled his bat and edged it to  Rob Yates at second slip diving to his right to take a low catch.  Four overs later the pair combined to dismiss Bohannon but this was straight forward.  Jennings and Bell looked to have survived the day but Bell swept the first ball of the final over of the day to Hannon-Dalby at short fine leg who had to dive forward to take it.

Day 3

WARWICKSHIRE spin twins Jacob Bethell and Jake Lintott took their best Vitality Championship figures as they took a first innings lead of 135 on the third day.

Before today, slow left arm spinner, Bethell had taken two first class wickets for 422 runs and his best figures were one for 37. He finished Lancashire’s first innings with four for 24.  Lintott’s,  best known for white ball cricket, figures were three for 68 now they are three for 10.

Bethell said: “Waking up this morning we all expected it to rain all day so to actually get a lot of cricket in and get ourselves in a winning position is really good. 

I’ve been short on runs so to contribute and then to get some poles with the ball is nice. I was injured for the whole of last year and couldn’t bowl so to get a career best is nice and the boys are telling me I’ve got to get a round in at the bar now so that’ll mean a dent in my credit card.

We’ll look to score some quick runs tomorrow weather dependent and the pitch is only going to deteriorate so it will get harder to bat and easier to bowl so we’ll look to post a good score and defend it.” 

After two short interruptions for rain, captain Keaton  Jennings and George  Balderson dug in against seamers Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Michael Rae producing the best partnership of the day.  It was  the introduction of left arm wrist spinner Lintott that broke the partnership. He drifted one at Balderson encouraging him to push forward  and found the edge of Balderson’s bat and Will  Rhodes at slip took a good catch diving to his right.


Lancashire lost their third wicket of the morning, the important wicket of captain Jennings, when Bethell got him leg before  in the penultimate over before lunch. After the wicket of Jennings just before lunch Warwickshire got another boost in the first over after lunch when Tom  Aspinwall slapped Bethell to Alex  Davies at mid-off.

Tom Bailey took a couple of paces down the pitch and had a  big swing at Bethell missed the ball to give Michael Burgess a routine stumping..

Nathan Lyon feathered a big  drive off  Lintott and the ball took a deflection off stumper Burgess but Rhodes at slip took a spectacular one handed catch leaping to his right.

Lancashire’s innings was wrapped up when  Jack Morley had a big sweep at Lintott and was leg before for a duck.  They had lost their last six wickets for 36 runs in 19 overs.

Play on the third day was delayed by 17 minutes by rain but after seven minutes Lancashire lost their fourth wicket when Tom Bruce pushed forward at Hannon-Dalby and was bowled with both off stump and middle stumps splayed.

Leading by 135 Warwickshire had more freedom to play their shots than they did in the first and they wouldn't have been bothered to lose their first wicket in the way they did. Balderson, bowling around the wicket, got one to rise sharply off the pitch to take Yates’ edge through to stumper George Hurst.

Davies went for an expansive drive off Lyon but dragged it on. Rhodes was leg before to Morley in the first over after tea to a ball that kept low.

Ed Barnard and Dan Mousley batted  positively with the threat of an early finish.   Barnard swept Morley over the square leg boundary as they  added 24 in three overs. He swept Lyon for four to the square leg boundary to take the Warwickshire lead over 200. Barnard underedged a sweep off Lyon and clipped one of the helmets on its way to the boundary for a nine.

When the umpires took the players off the field with thunder and lightening around Barnard and Mousley had added 66 in 12 overs after with a lead of 231.

Jennings said: “Realistically we’ve got to make sure we bat well when it’s our turn sometime tomorrow. They will try and score quickly in the morning and try and put us under pressure. We need to make sure we are really disciplined in the way we go about things.

There were a lot of dismissals that we need to try and eradicate. We have to come back tomorrow and have a higher standard for ourselves. I think we’ve done some  good stuff in this game, and done some poor stuff as well. Some things haven’t gone our way. It’s been a good game of cricket generally, but we need to make sure we get something out of the game.

It’s been good to have Jack Morley back. He’s happy and been bouncing around and its been brilliant to see him learn from Lyon. It’s nice to see the effect a guy like Lyon  has on the environment and also on the young lads’ cricket. It’s brilliant to have him around.

I’m really happy for Bailey too, he’s put in a lot of hard work, so for him to come in and bowl the way he did was fantastic.”

Day 4

RAIN forced the match to be abandoned at 5.15 as a draw with Lancashire needing 143 to win and Warwickshire six wickets at Emirates Old Trafford with Warwickshire taking 12 points and Lancashire 11 to move off the bottom of Division one.

Warwickshire head coach Mark Robinson said: “It was a difficult toss to win, with the floodlights on everything pointed to bowl first but we knew the ball was going to spin which it did.  Davies played an outstanding knock. After day two nobody knew what a good score would be and he should be really proud of his innings. It should have been a match winning knock and it’s a shame that it wasn’t. The way he batted against one of the world’s best spinners, Nathan Lyon,  who doesn’t normally miss the rough but in this game he couldn’t hit it. I thought they bowled defensively.   

Jake Lintott was brought into the side to do a job to knock over the tail which  he did.  I thought   Rob Yates was unlucky when he bowled but we are investing in him and Jacob Bethell and they will get better by bowling.

Yesterday I felt that we could have stayed on longer than we did.  The shorter the  chase favours the batting side because they could give it a go and then shut up shop.  We wanted 75 overs to bowl at them.”

Mark Chilton, Lancashire director of cricket performance, said: "It was a brave declaration from Warwickshire and it was a very getable score in other conditions, we always knew there were showers knocking about but from the start we fancied it. We are disappointed on the whole and we can't hide behind the fact that over the course of the first seven games we haven't played to our usual standards and we know that there is more in the tank for sure. 

There have clearly been positives, I thought it was a fantastic result at Blackpool  because Durham are a good team and there have been some good individual performances, Keaton Jennings has really led well from the start and there have been performances from the youngsters that clearly show they are capable at this level.

We  know we have a crop of fine young players and we are always keen to give them game time because that is their best chance of learning but overall we know as a team we have fallen short of our expected standards over the first couple of months and that is frustrating for everyone. 

I don't think it is through a lack of effort,everyone is trying and talking about how we can improve, but for whatever reason we haven't quite clicked."

Play on the final day didn’t get underway until 3.15 because of several showers and with 44 overs left in the day Warwickshire declared at their overnight score setting Lancashire 232.

Warwickshire made an early breakthrough in the second over when Luke Wells pulled  Michael Rae straight to Jake Lintott on the square leg boundary.

Despite losing Wells Josh Bohannon uppercut Rae over third man for a six as Lancashire made their intentions to go for the runs clear. Jennings on one drilled Oliver Hannon-Dalby just wide off  Alex Davies at mid off and raced to the boundary. In the next over he hit Rae straight back over his head.  He tried reverse slogging Bethell but ended up being bowled in a  very undignified stance.

In the  next over  Bohannon top edged a flat batted smash off Rae, the ball looped in the air and Davies waited underneath it at mid-on to take the catch. George  Bell repeated the shot in Rae’s next over with the same result, only this time Hassan Ali ran from mid-off to take the catch.

Tom Bruce and George  Hurst added a quick 43 in five overs before the rain came back,  Bruce smashed a full toss from Bethell for a six over mid-wicket and Hurst reversed swept Lintott for a six over third man.

SCORECARD

May 25, 2024 10:50 am

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