Lancashire CCC - Specsavers County Championship
Read the reports from each day at Chelmsford:
Dane Vilas (74) top scored for Lancashire on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship season as the Red Rose were bowled out for 319, but responded well by taking two late Essex wickets.
The tail wagged to take Lancashire to a third batting point that had looked out of their reach at the midway point on the first day of the opening Specsavers County Championship match of the season.
Lancashire were in danger of being skittled for around 250, but the last three wickets amassed 102 runs to validate the decision to bat after winning the toss. Kyle Jarvis and Jimmy Anderson put on 51 for the last wicket to frustrate Essex in the early-evening sunshine, and then took a wicket apiece as the home side finished on 39 for two.
Before then, the South African Dane Vilas had been the only batsman to pass fifty, keeping the scoreboard moving with 74 off 101 balls of sustained aggression that included 10 fours. Haseeb Hameed and Steven Croft both fell just short, Hameed by three runs and Croft by two.
Aaron Beard, at 19 and playing only his third Championship match, was the pick of the Essex bowlers with some tidy contributions throughout the day to finish with three wickets for 47. Neil Wagner, the New Zealand Test player on debut, showed touches of intent, but conceded a plethora of boundaries in figures of three for 100. In mitigation he had only stepped off a flight from the other side of the world on Tuesday morning.
Jamie Porter made the breakthrough after Lancashire won the toss with his 10th ball of the day when he got one to rear up on Alex Davies, who edged the ball behind.
Liam Livingstone, who had taken the fight to former team-mate Neil Wagner with a series of boundaries, was next to go with the score on 50. He had hit six fours in his 28 before he nicked Aaron Beard and fell to the double act of Tom Westley and Varun Chopra. Westley dived to parry the ball into the air at second slip and Chopra swept up behind.
All the while Haseeb Hameed was batting patiently and competently and showing no discomfort from the hand injury that caused him to retire while batting against Cambridge MCCU earlier in the week. He hit six fours in his 103-ball 47, though his best shot was arguably when he drove Wagner through the covers for three to the furthest corner of the ground with Ryan ten Doeschate in hot pursuit.
But he lasted just three balls after lunch before he injudiciously left alone a delivery from Porter that nipped back.
Croft, who survived a sharp stumping chance down legside off Harmer, fell to the South African spinner when he got a top-edge to a sweep and substitute fielder Callum Taylor claimed above his head. The Lancashire captain had hit seven fours in his 73-ball 48.
Taylor also played a key part in the dismissal of Shivnarine Chanderpaul soon after. The West Indian veteran was sent back to the non-striker’s end by Vilas and failed to beat Taylor’s throw over the stumps to the bowler.
Four balls later, and to his first, Ryan McLaren got an outside edge to Westley to give Wagner his first Essex wicket. At that point Lancashire were 160 for six.
But a seventh-wicket stand of 57 between Vilas and Jordan Clark repaired the immediate damage. Clark took 14 off one Harmer over, including a six over long leg, before he was lbw without playing a shot to Beard.
Stephen Parry put on 47 with Vilas before he edged Wagner high into the air and Harmer dashed in from third slip, throwing himself full-length before taking the catch skidding on to the square. And Vilas followed soon after, trying to hit Beard over the top and finding Wagner at mid-off.
Anderson executed a passable reverse-sweep for four off Harmer to take Lancashire past 300. Jarvis finally went for 28, snapped up by Chopra at slip off Wagner.
That left Essex nine overs to negotiate at the end. They floundered, losing Nick Browne caught behind off Jarvis for 16 and nightwatchman Beard giving Davies a second catch off Anderson.
Lancashire bowled Essex out for just 159 before closing the day on 114/1 on a day dominated by the Red Rose.
Alex Davies tightened Lancashire’s stranglehold on the opening Specsavers County Championship match of the season at Chelmsford.
The 22-year-old opener helped Lancashire build on their first-innings lead of 160 with an unbeaten half-century as they closed on their first Championship win in 12 games. Lancashire captain Steven Croft had declined to enforce the follow-up after Stephen Parry wrapped up the Essex innings with his third wicket, his 14.4 overs of spin from the River End costing just 28 runs.
Parry broke the back of the Essex batting with two wickets in six balls either side of lunch, removing potential danger men Dan Lawrence and Adam Wheater.
Jimmy Anderson, who finished with three for 56, turned the screw with Kyle Jarvis from the start of the day, making it difficult for Essex to score with any freedom. Ravi Bopara struggled before the first interval, but found his range after it and was seventh out for a 112-ball 46 that included seven fours.
When Lancashire went in again, Essex did themselves no favours by dropping Alex Davies twice when he was on 10 and 26, both off Neil Wagner. Tom Westley spilled an in-and-out chance at second slip and Ryan ten Doeschate failed to hang on at leg gulley. Davies reached his fifty from the penultimate ball of the day and was still there at the close when Lancashire led by 274 with nine wickets to fall.
The opening pair had put on 83 when Aaron Beard made the breakthrough in the 30th over when Haseeb Hameed was caught behind for 45 from 98 balls.
Essex had found runs well-nigh impossible to come by in the morning session when they managed just 58 runs in 30 overs. It took nearly 40 minutes, and 10 overs, for Essex to score their first boundary when Chopra angled Anderson wide of the slips to take the score from the overnight 39 for two to 49. But all the watchfulness and patience was thrown away in the space of six balls soon afterwards.
Chopra had faced 32 balls in the session while grinding out seven runs before he chased a wide one from Jarvis and thumped his pad in self-disgust as he walked off. Westley had managed just three from 38 balls when he too went for a wide-ish ball from Anderson he could and should have left and gave Davies his fourth successive catch behind.
Bopara had been even more snail-like than Chopra and Westley. He took 14 balls to get off the mark – a straight-driven four off Jordan Clark – and another 19 balls before his next scoring stroke, a single off McLaren. In total he took 53 balls over his first 11 runs before lunch.
Before that, Dan Lawrence had upped the scoring rate. The fourth of his six boundaries, a textbook cover drive off Ryan McLaren, took him to 17 from 18 deliveries. But when he had reached 37 from 57 he was drawn forward by Parry and turned the ball to Liam Livingstone’s hands at first slip. Lawrence stood his ground while Lancashire celebrated before the umpires conferred and sent him on his way.
Parry took a wicket with his sixth ball after lunch, pinning Wheater on his back foot, and the Essex collapse was well and truly underway.
Bopara smashed Kyle Jarvis for two boundaries through the off-side in one over, and then leant back and cut Anderson for another four. He had put on 48 in 16 overs for the seventh wicket with Ryan ten Doeschate when he got to a ball from Anderson a fraction too early and clipped it to Parry at midwicket.
It was the prelude to the final three wickets going down for a dozen runs in nine overs.
Anderson was replaced by Ryan McLaren at the Hayes Close End and the South African’s first ball had Simon Harmer plumb in front. Next over he had ten Doeschate waving at one outside off-stump to give Davies catch No5. The innings ended with Parry’s third wicket, Jamie Porter trapped lbw. There were no extras.
Alex Davies posted his maiden First-Class century to help Lancashire set Essex 478 to win – or four full sessions to save the game – in a decidedly one-sided opening match of the Specsavers County Championship season.
Essex knocked off 89 of the runs in 38 overs before the close. They lost both openers in the process as Lancashire closed in on their first Championship win in 12 attempts.
The day, though, belonged to Davies. He had been within one run of a century against Kent at Emirates Old Trafford almost two years ago, but batted throughout the 94.3 overs of Lancashire’s second innings at Chelmsford to finish unbeaten on 140.
Essex were made to pay dearly for dropping the wicketkeeper-rookie opener twice on the second afternoon when he had just 10 and 26. Neil Wagner floored a third chance on the long-leg boundary off Tom Westley, but by then the 22 year old had 132 to his name.
Davies showed he had all the orthodox shots in the textbook as well as a punishing reverse-sweep, one of which was sent scudding to the boundary off Simon Harmer, another lobbing gently over Wagner standing at point.
A fierce drive off Wagner was so straight it smashed into the stumps at the bowler’s end and ricocheted for one of his 21 boundaries. Twice he stepped back to leg and cut Wagner firmly square of the wicket. He took successive fours off Ravi Bopara to bring up the century partnership with Dane Vilas. It was not far off brutal.
Davies had reached his half-century from the penultimate ball of the second day, and went to lunch on the third 97 not out. He pushed his third ball after the interval through midwicket off Harmer to reach three figures from 214 balls with 17 fours.
It was a chastening experience for newly-promoted Essex who enjoyed only two moments of success in the field during the day. The first arrived in the seventh over of the day when Aaron Beard took his second wicket of the innings. Liam Livingstone, having helped put on 51 with Davies, tried to force the young bowler through the off-side but only picked out Nick Browne at cover point and departed for 28.
Lancashire’s third wicket fell 49 overs later when Jamie Porter took out Vilas’s middle stump and precipitated the declaration. In between Davies and Vilas made hay in the sunshine, adding 183 runs and taking the game out of Essex’s reach. Vilas reached 92 off 165 balls, with just five fours, and it looked for all the world like he was set fair for a ton.
The Essex openers negotiated seven overs before tea and a further 11 afterwards without undue alarm before Browne carelessly gave his wicket away. He dragged a rank long hop from Stephen Parry straight into Haseeb Hameed’s hands halfway back to the boundary at midwicket for 18.
With just 12 runs added, Varun Chopra (29) played across one from Ryan McLaren and turned to see his off-stump cartwheeling into the distance. Westley had lives when 10 and 11, dropped by Shivnarine Chanderpaul at short extra cover off McLaren, and then by Livingstone at slip off Parry. But he reached the close on 27 with Dan Lawrence on 13.
Dan Lawrence batted throughout the final day to post the fifth first-class century of his career and earn Essex a draw in their opening Division One Specsavers County Championship match. It was a result that had looked beyond them for much of the four days at Chelmsford.
Essex had been set an improbable 478 to win. Otherwise they had to bat through four sessions plus seven overs to save the game and prevent Lancashire winning for only the first time in 12 Championship matches.
That they did so was largely down to a mature innings from the 19-year-old Lawrence, a player tipped for England honours in the not-too-distant future. He did his case no harm here.
Lawrence was out in the middle for all but the first 21 overs of Essex’s second innings. He had come in at the fall of Varun Chopra’s wicket the previous evening when Essex had slumped to 52 for two, still 425 short of the target.
An obdurate third-wicket partnership of 135 with Tom Westley set the tone for the day. When Westley’s tenacious 190-ball innings ended half-an-hour after lunch, Essex had used up 58 valuable overs and the impossible had become possible. However, his departure heralded a mini-collapse that was only steadied when Ryan ten Doeschate came in and helped Lawrence put on 102 for the sixth wicket.
Lawrence finished on 141, having batted for 333 balls and hitting 18 boundaries.
Despite having Jimmy Anderson in their armoury, Lancashire were unable to repeat their first-innings domination with the ball when they needed just 66 overs to skittle Essex for 159. They remained optimistic right until hands were shaken at 6.01pm with two balls remaining.
Westley and Lawrence had taken a risk-free approach from the start of a morning session during which they added 73 runs in 32 overs and both brought up their half-centuries.
Lawrence, having given Westley a 20-ball start, was first to fifty. A gentle push off Stephen Parry into the covers, brought the single from the 125th ball he had faced. At that point he had hit seven fours.
Westley followed shortly before the interval when he crashed Jordan Clark through the covers for his fifth four of an innings that had spanned 163 balls to that point. It also brought up the century partnership in 48 overs.
Runs had not come easily in the first hour with Anderson in particularly parsimonious mood. His first six overs of the day went for just two runs. When Lawrence pulled him through midwicket for four he kicked out at the ground in frustration. His initial eight-over spell, before the stand-in captain took himself off, cost just nine runs with five maidens.
The batsmen were parted when Stephen Parry was switched to the Hayes Close End for the first time in the match and worked one through Westley’s defences to knock off the bails. Westley’s 61 included six fours.
The new-ball was taken soon after. Kyle Jarvis used it to good effect, striking twice in the space of seven deliveries. His ninth ball accounted for Ravi Bopara, caught behind playing tentatively forward for four.
Next over, Adam Wheater hammered a wide half-volley just inches off the ground straight to Haseeb Hameed at cover. He departed with for a second successive innings of one.
Fortunately for Essex, Lawrence continued to show remarkable restraint and was duly rewarded. He flicked Anderson’s first ball of a new spell off his hip for two through square leg to reach a 216-ball century.
Clark strayed down legside twice in successive deliveries and Lawrence glanced them away to the boundary as he ground out a second century stand of the innings, this one with ten Doeschate. Lawrence drove Parry through the covers for the boundary that took the pair through the three-figure mark in 35 overs
Ten Doeschate took his cue from the youngster, but when he was lbw for 41 to give Parry his fifth wicket of the game, Essex still had 10.5 overs to negotiate in deteriorating conditions with the floodlights on.