Lancashire v Warwickshire County Championship 30/8-2/9

Neil Whitaker reports

Day 1
It was a day of firsts on the first day of the LV Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford between Lancashire and Warwickshire.

Warwickshire’s Sam Hain hit his first Championship century since 2019 when hit two in the match against Hampshire at Southampton and Chris Benjamin hit his first Championship ton on his championship debut as the pair added 237 in 75 overs.

2021 has turned out to be a brilliant year for Benjamin.   A year ago hardly anybody had heard of the 22 year old South African who qualifies for England through his English father, but he came to the attention of cricket followers by scoring 24 against the London Spirit in the Hundred for Birmingham Phoenix against London Spirit at Edgbaston after he was picked as Rookie but the 24 was the lowest score he has made on debut.

On his other debuts he hit 50 on his Royal London cup debut against Glamorgan at Cardiff, 60 against Northamptonshire at Edgbaston on his  Vitality blast debut and on his championship debut he hit 127.

Benjamin said: “It was a fantastic day for me.  It has always been a dream of mine to score a first class century in England but to do it on my debut it’s just fantastic and I am very proud.  I was more nervous when I was in the nineties because we had just had a break and I am always more nervous when I am beginning an innings.

At the beginning I was pushing hard at the ball but I managed to get my tempo right and treat each ball on merit and bat for a long period of time.  It was good to get a partnership with Hain after we had lost a couple of early wickets and to put the pressure back on their bowlers.  I like batting with him because he’s always pushing for singles.  It was massive to hit a century because I want to be known as a player who can play all formats of the game and not just the white ball form because I want to play for England.

The new three year contract I have been given by Warwickshire has given me more confidence and hopefully it will be a long career with them.  At the moment I am enjoying every and taking each day as it comes.  Hopefully tomorrow we’ll get a good start and bat them out of the game.”

He could have a championship baptism of fire because he came in at the fall of Warwickshire’s first wicket in the third over when Rob Yates pushed at Tom Bailey and Rob Jones at third slip took a comfortable catch. Two overs later things got worse for Warwickshire, who decided to bat after winning the toss, when they lost their second wicket in Bailey’s next over when he squared Dom  Sibley up and was leg before. 

His only scare came when he was on 33 with the score on 78 for two, he clipped George Balderson to mid wicket and set off for a single but the ball had  gone to Jones.  Benjamin had given up the ghost, he even had his bat in the air but Jones’ throw was wayward and missed the stumps.  

It looked like a run out would be the way that Lancashire would break the stubborn third wicket partnership as the Lancashire bowlers hit the defiant face of Hain’s bat.  Both of them would catch the other unaware as they would wait before they committed to a single and in that time the other had returned back to the bowler’s crease.

After a slow start he grew in confidence and overtook his partner Hain, who came in after Benjamin and had quickly overtaken him. On 63 Benjamin went down the wicket and drilled the ball back to Matt  Parkinson.  The ball hit Parkinson’s left hand and rebounded up and hit Parkinson’s eye.  Parkinson left the field with blood coming out of his eye.

Benjamin late cut Saqib Mahmood to the third man boundary to take him into the nineties. He reached his century when clipped Balderson off his legs to the fine leg boundary to bring up his first century off 194 balls with 10 fours.

After driving Saqib beautifully to the extra cover boundary he top edged a pull and the ball went high in the air and Dane Vilas at mid off took the catch.

Hain sweetly drilled Bailey to the extra cover boundary to bring up his fifty from 118 balls with six fours.  He drove Bailey off the back foot to the third man boundary and two balls later he drove him again off the back foot to the cover boundary for the shot of the day.

On 83 Hain gave a hard return chance to Liam  Livingstone who could only get his fingertips to it.  He reached his ton which came from198 balls and included 12 fours when he pushed Luke Wells out to mid off and set off for a single.

Day 2
WARWICKSHIRE’S intention on the second day was to bat Lancashire out of the game but they scored slowly and added 112 in 52 overs.

The morning session copied the first day’s morning session, Lancashire got two early wickets and Warwickshire blocked. Tom Bailey got his third wicket of the Warwickshire first innings in the fourth over of the morning when he got one to come back at Sam Hain, keep low and Hain was plumb leg before. His 118 took him 344 minutes from 253 balls and included 14 fours.

Hain said: “We would have loved to score more but credit to them they stuck at it. If we can control the run rate we can put them under pressure.  But we have a long day in the field tomorrow but the match is still winnable, if we can go bang, bang.”

Three overs later Warwickshire lost their second wicket of the day when Saqib Mahmood bowled Will Rhodes with another one that came back and kept low to give Lancashire their first bowling point.  They had 16 overs to get more bowling points which is why Matt Lamb and Michael Burgess didn’t go for the runs until the 109th over when they gradually got close to a third batting point. 

Saqib said: “Winning the championship with Lancashire for the first time in 10 years is the top of my priorities and I am always looking to improve.  This season we have played on some flat tracks but this is the flattest of them all.  We have got a big day ahead tomorrow.”

At the start of the 110th over they needed 10 to get their third batting point.  Lamb pulled Bailey to the mid wicket boundary and then got a single.    Burgess then got a couple but they failed to get their third batting point when Bailey fired the final ball down the legside but Warwickshire had denied Lancashire a second bowling point.

Lamb and Burgess saw Warwickshire through to lunch but in the fourth over after lunch Matt Parkinson got a wicket with the poorest ball he must have ever bowled. It was  a rank full toss and Burgess' eyes must have lit up with the prospect of hitting a six. But he top edged it and Luke Wells at slip without moving an inch took a steepling catch.

Danny Briggs reverse swept Parkinson and Wells at slip stretched out his right arm and took another catch.

After Lamb had changed his bat he smashed his first ball from Parkinson with his new bat over the long on boundary but the leg spinner had the last laugh when he bowled Lamb when he tried to pull a short googly and missed the ball.  Lamb faced 123  balls in 169 minutes and hit three fours and that six.

Saqib got his second wicket of the day when he trapped  Craig Miles leg before, a fate which befell last man Chema Holder making his Championship debut for Warwickshire but not before he gave the crowd some light relief.  Parkinson should have got his fourth wicket when Holder went down the wicket to him, missed the ball but stumper George Lavelle on his Championship debut couldn’t gather the ball. 

It was left to Saqib to wrap the innings up and he finished with four for 77 in his 28.1 overs, the most he has bowled for Lancashire since he bowled 33 on his debut against Hampshire at Southampton.

Saqib added: “It’s my first championship game since  and after bowling yesterday I was pretty stiff today. Hopefully we can bat long tomorrow and I can get my feet up.”

Needing 222 to avoid the follow on Lancashire lost their first wicket in the third over when George Balderson played around a straight ball from Norwell and was leg before.  Even the most biased Lancashire fan must have feared the worst but things looked up when Josh Bohannon got off the mark with a beautiful cover drive of Norwell.  He hit three fours off a Miles over, one was square, one through mid wicket and one through cover.

He sumptuously late cut Holder to the third man boundary and drove the next ball to mid on before bringing up his fifty off 73 balls.

On 18 Wells turned Briggs to Hain at short leg but he couldn’t get the ball to stick as it bounced round his chest. After that scare Wells became more enterprising and played Briggs delightfully to the extra cover boundary as the pair closed in on the hundred which they reached in the final over of the day.

Day 3
LANCASHIRE’S Josh Bohannon hit his best score of the season beating the 127 he made against Yorkshire at Emirates Old Trafford in May but failed to beat his best score of 174.

With four runs needed to equal it he danced down the wicket to Danny Briggs had a big swing, missed the ball and was easily stumped. His 170 takes his average for the season to 67.27. He drove Liam Norwell to the extra cover boundary for a three off Chemar  Holder to bring  up his second championship 150 which came off 288 balls and included 14 fours and a six.

From the moment he came in at the on the second day at the fall of George Balderson’s wicket in the third over he showed his intention to move the score on and he carried on in the same vein on the third day.

Bohannon said: “It was a good day and very enjoyable, the disappointing thing is that we couldn’t carry on.  We put in a good performance and the pitch is hard for the seamers but it is taking spin.  We would have liked two more wickets tonight but we’ll comeback tomorrow and see where we go.  There is no reason why we can’t get five wickets in the first session.”

He flat batted Briggs to the long on boundary and edged the next ball just over Will Rhodes at slip who slipped just before the ball got to him.  He hammered Rob Yates for a big six over long on to take him to two short off his century.

Bohannon reached his  second Championship century of the season when he turned Rhodes off his hips for a couple to square leg. His century came off 201 balls with 14 fours and a six.  

In the morning session Lancashire added 115 for the loss of one wicket in 31 overs compared to Warwickshire who scored 77 in 30 overs on the first day and 58 in 32 overs on the second day.  The wicket to fall was Luke Wells,who  opened the scoring when he dispatched a juicy half volley from Craig  Miles to the long off boundary and he cut the next ball to the point boundary which brought up the hundred partnership in 261 balls. However the tall opener was soon back in the hutch when Norwell, bowling round the wicket, slanted the ball in and beat Wells for pace.

Bohannon was joined by his captain Dane Vilas and the pair added 129 in 36 overs.  Vilas went down the wicket to Briggs  and lofted him for a one bounce straight four.  He reached his fifty, which came off 65 balls with five fours and a six, with a big six off Yates over long on.  It was his Championship 50 of the season since he made 53 against Kent at Canterbury in April.

Their partnership was broken in the fifth over with the new ball when Norwell squared up Villas and found the edge of his bat and Rob Yates at first slip took a tumbling catch.   His 67 included five fours and a six from 106 balls.

After the loss of Vilas, Lancashire lost four wickets in eight overs for 42 runs.Two balls later Rob Jones was late on a straight ball from Norwell and was leg before. Livingstone playing his first Championship innings since June when he made 17 and 14 against Glamorgan at Cardiff hit three fours, left a straight ball from Norwell and was bowled. Norwell had taken three wickets in 14 balls.

He said: “We’re pretty happy that we got a lead on that surface after a tough first session.   We just got on a run and they aggressive against the the new ball.  I did my job for the team and it would have been nice if we had got a bigger lead.  The first session tomorrow is the key to the game, we have got  to bat well especially if the ball continues to spin, so we have to get our batting heads on tomorrow.  We have got to win the first session.”

George Lavelle edged Miles to stumper Michael Burgess.  Danny Lamb pushed forward at Briggs and  was beaten by the turn and was bowled.  Briggs got  his second wicket in the second over after tea when Tom Bailey pushed forward at him and edged it to Burgess.

Last man Matt Parkinson was the last man out when he was leg before to Norwell to one that was hitting leg stump.  Norwell finished with six for 57, the 13th time that he has taken five wickets in an innings.

Leading by 30 Warwickshire lost their first second innings wicket when Yates became another batsman to be beaten by the pace of Saqib and saw his off stump cartwheeling out of the ground.

Day 4
WARWICKSHIRE got their batting heads on and batted throughout the day defying the Lancashire bowlers until timed was called at 4.50.

Lancashire’s Matt Parkinson bowled throughout the day at the  Brian Statham end and took four wickets for 46 in 40 overs as he bowled beautifully and should have got more.

Parkinson got the first wicket of the day in the 16th over of the morning.  The first signs of aggression of the morning came when Chris Benjamin swept Parkinson twice to the boundary, the first to the mid wicket boundary and the second finer to the fine leg boundary. The sweep proved to be Benjamin’s downfall when he attempted another sweep of Parkinson he was leg before.

His second victim of the day in his third over after lunch was  Dom Sibley when he bowled Sibley round his legs.  Sibley had  added 59 in 30 overs with Sam Hain.  The opener brought his 50 and the 50 partnership with Hain up  with an extra cover drive for four off Parkinson.

Parkinson’s third wicket came when Lancashire managed to get the ball changed at the end of the 68th over.  Parkinson struck with the first ball with it.  Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes edged a drive and Luke Wells at slip took a spectacular low catch with  the ball almost behind him.  Earlier Rhodes had tickled Parkinson just wide off Bohannon at leg slip for a couple.

Michael Burgess started the evening session by hitting the first two balls from Parkinson to the boundary,the first through extra cover and the second straight to long on.  But he smashed the fifth ball straight to Josh Bohannon at mid wicket  and that was the last wicket to fall.  The runs dried up and the final over of the match was bowled by Dane Vilas for his second over in first class cricket.

Lancashire’s head coach Glenn Chappell said: “Warwickshire are a strong team, we’ve come away with a strong draw and we are in a good position for next week’s game at Nottingham.  

I  thought we put a lot of effort in on the second day on a very unresponsive pitch.  Bohannon was superb and it was a great effort from him.  His partnership with  Vilas could have got us past their score, and allowed us to put some pressure on them. He is a hell of a player prepared to bat time and he is going from strength to strength. Parkinson just wanted the ball and it was turning a lot and he is very tired now.”

Warwickshire coach Mark Robinson said: "We have battled and stayed in a game which is what you always want to do.  It was hard to score because of the fields that were set, the seamers had everyone in front of the bat and no slips and it was a slow wicket so the cricket was quite attritional. 

We would've liked to have been a bit more proactive and get at least one more batting bonus point but it was a very hard game in which to force the pace.

Chris Benjamin showed all the potential and composure he has got in scoring a magnificent hundred. What a debut - hopefully he is a great find for Warwickshire and he will do us proud for many years to come.

Dom Sibley has been magnificent. I have had a lot of England players in my career come back having been left out of international cricket and they have been in a hard, difficult place and sometimes it effects how they are with you.

Everyone's dream is to play for England and when it is taken away from you it is hard to get past and Dom was under a lot of scrutiny - a lot of it was unfair but that is the reality of international sport. He has been brilliant for us in this game and he was great on the pitch - the bowlers talk about his contribution and I heard him speak to Rob Yates about batting and that is what you want from 'big' players - you want them to get involved with the team and I know that's not easy because we are all in different places and you can be in dark places at different times."

Warwickshire started the final day 82 ahead with nine wickets left and the first runs of the day came in the third over when Sibley drove Saqib Mahmood straight for a couple.  In the morning session Warwickshire added 63 in 31 overs  and batted well to keep Parkinson out.

Hain’s innings mirrored his first innings knock but after lunch he went mad hitting Lamb for three fours in three balls, the first was a straight dive, the second a late cut and the third was a clip through mid wicket. With a 50 on the cards Hain  fell two short when he slapped a full toss from Liam Livingstone to substitute Richard Gleeson at cover.  He had batted for 157 minutes, faced 126 balls and hit seven fours.

Lancashire should have dismissed him before lunch when Sibley on 41 chopped George Balderson down  to Bohannon at point and set off for a single.  Luckily for Hain, Bohannon' s throw was wayward because he had given up the ghost yards from the crease.

On five Matt Lamb edged Parkinson between Wells at slip and stumper George Lavelle and ran for a four.  10 runs later Lamb turned Livingstone into Rob Jones at short leg but Jones couldn’t hold on the rebound from his chest.  Without adding to his score he edged  Livingstone again in his next over, this time wide off Wells and he got three more runs.


August 31, 2021 9:02 am

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