Stephen Croft and Karl Brown produced a great fightback with an unbroken century partnership to rescue the Lancashire innings against Warwickshire in this Specsavers County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford today.
The pair came together with the Red Rose struggling on 91-4 and their determined alliance steered Lancashire through to the close in far better shape on 196-4 in their first innings.
At the start of the day Lancashire awarded a first-class debut to 19 year-old Matt Parkinson, the young leg spinner replacing Simon Kerrigan who has a slight back strain, and one of two changes from the previous County Championship clash against Yorkshire, with Arron Lilley replacing the injured Tom Bailey.
It meant Lancashire went in to the game with two front line spinners for the first time this season, plus having the leg spin of Liam Livingstone to call upon while Warwickshire chose to play just their off spinner Jeetan Patel and leave out leg spinner Josh Poysden.
Lancashire captain Croft once again took the wicketkeeping role with Jos Buttler returning to England duty and Alex Davies out of action with a knee injury.
Rain prevented any play until 2pm leaving 67 overs to be bowled and Warwickshire, with the damp conditions around and the wicket covered up to the start of play, unsurprisingly opted to bowl first. They made early inroads too, with both Lancashire opening batsmen back in the dressing room by the fourth over, with the score 6-2.
Tom Smith made 2 before edging an attempted drive off Keith Barker to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose, who took a good catch diving to his left, and Haseeb Hameed was lbw for a duck after a missing a yorker from Rikki Clarke.
Alviro Petersen and Luke Procter mixed solid defence with some nice counter-attacking strokes to add 40 runs across 12 overs, but having weathered the early pace attack Petersen departed to the second ball of spin when he swept Patel to Sam Hain at short leg to leave Lancashire 46-3 in the 16th over.
Procter continued to keep the visitors at bay throughout the afternoon session with a determined innings but survived a ‘life’ on 33 in the over before tea, which Lancashire reached on 82-3, when a fairly straightforward catch off Boyd Rankin went towards the slips but ended up on the grass.
The miss did not prove costly as Procter was out for 36 soon after the resumption, advancing down the wicket but beaten for turn from Patel to be smartly stumped by Ambrose leaving the Red Rose poorly placed on 91-4.
Steven Croft and Karl Brown battled hard against some accurate bowling from the Warwickshire attack over the course of the evening session, taking few risks as they built slowly towards a respectable score, initially taking 17 overs to add just 32 runs.
Patel, bowling from the Pavilion End, found enough turn to ensure some respectful treatment of his bowling with his first 16 overs bringing a return of 2-30, and the Warwickshire attack in general bowled straight and gave little away throughout the day.
Croft however remained resolute, sweeping Patel backward of square leg for four to go to his half-century garnered patiently from 107 balls, including 6 fours.
The Lancashire skipper then hit the first six of the match by slog-sweeping Patel high over square leg to bring up his 50 partnership with Brown off 120 balls and the pair began to play with more freedom during the final hour of the day as the sun shone.
Brown reigned in his more normal attacking style to contribute a valuable unbeaten 41 by the close from 98 balls with Croft still there on 82 in a fifth wicket partnership worth 105 runs.
A day of fluctuating fortunes in which twelve wickets fell provided some excellent, absorbing cricket in this Specsavers County Championship match against Warwickshire, and a day to remember for young leg spinner Matt Parkinson who claimed two important wickets on his debut.
Halfway through this contest, the game is intriguingly poised with the visitors closing on 202-6 in reply to Lancashire’s first innings 308.
Resuming Lancashire’s first innings on 196-4 Steven Croft and Karl Brown steadily added 38 runs to their fifth wicket partnership on the second morning with Brown twice cutting Patel for four to reach his half century while Steven Croft reverse swept Jeetan Patel for four on his way to a 199-ball hundred, the eleventh of his career.
The introduction of the new ball after 80 overs brought immediate success for Warwickshire who brought themselves right back into the game with two key wickets for two runs in three overs.
Brown was the first to go when he was lbw to Barker for 61 from the last ball of the 81st over after adding 143 with Croft in just under 46 overs.
Croft departed moments after reaching three figures, and the Red Rose skipper was somewhat unfortunate when his flick at a wayward leg side delivery from Rikki Clarke found a nick to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose having made exactly 100 and leave Lancashire on 236-6.
It left two new batsmen, Liam Livingstone and Arron Lilley, at the crease facing the new ball and Lilley was the next go for 12 when his fiercely struck drive was caught at the second attempt by Boyd Rankin off his own bowling to deepen Lancashire gloom at 253-7 in the 89th over.
Neil Wagner made 5 but just before lunch glanced Oliver Hannon-Dalby down the leg side with wicketkeeper Ambrose making good ground to take the catch as Lancashire reached the break on 278-8 from 96 overs.
Kyle Jarvis was lbw to Rankin for 8 soon after the resumption, but debutant Matt Parkinson lent good support to Livingstone to help Lancashire go past the 300 mark and claim a third batting point.
Parkinson was the last man out, bowled by Patel (3-87) for 9 as Lancashire ended their first innings on 308 all out.
Livingstone finished with 34 not out to take his tally of runs batting at number 7 this season to 383 at an average of 76.59.
Warwickshire replied with an opening partnership of 54 between Varun Chopra and Andy Umeed before Jarvis struck with two wickets in two balls in the 14th over to take his season tally to 30 wickets.
Umeed had made 18 but playing forward edged Jarvis to second slip where Tom Smith took an excellent diving catch to his left. Ian Bell then pushed at a delivery that swung away enough to find an edge that was well taken low down by Livingstone at first slip to leave the visitors on 54-2.
The score had moved on to 67-2 when Parkinson was brought in to the attack for the first time, but the leg spinner had only bowled three deliveries when play was stopped due to loud interference from the PA system. An early tea was taken while the fault was rectified with Parkinson concluding an unusual debut over 20 minutes later.
Smith then had Chopra dropped on 47 off his first delivery but Lancashire were soon celebrating again as Parkinson struck twice.
The leg spinner’s second over will live longer in the memory than the bizarre first as the youngster took his first wicket, Jonathan Trott pushing towards the leg side but deceived by the spin and edging instead to Livingstone at slip for 3.
Parkinson, who had set off in the general direction of Stretford when celebrating his first wicket, was being mobbed again when Chopra, having made 59, gloved an attempted sweep off the leg spinner that was caught one-handed by Croft to leave the Bears on 90-4.
The drama of an absorbing afternoon continued as Smith struck twice in two balls to leave Warwickshire reeling on 94-6 in the 28th over.
Sam Hain, playing back, edged to Croft, the wicketkeeper taking a great diving catch in front of first slip, and Rikki Clarke was lbw to the following delivery meaning six wickets had fallen for 40 runs in 14 overs.
Tim Ambrose and Keith Barker steadied matters with 15 runs from the following 10 overs before Ambrose doubled that tally somewhat fortuitously from one Jarvis over with four fours, one off the outside edge past slip followed by an inside edge past his stumps plus a couple of more authentic glances to third man and fine leg.
Barker also put bat to ball in decisive fashion, reaching fifty from 72 balls including one six and 7 fours, in an unbroken partnership of 106 to revive the Warwickshire innings as the fortunes of the two sides took another twist during the late part of the evening session.
Barker was 57 not out and Ambrose unbeaten on 48 at the close with the visitors on 202-6, trailing by 106 runs.
It was a tale of two 19 year-old’s today as Matt Parkinson claimed a five-wicket haul on his first-class debut to help bowl Warwickshire out for 263 and Haseeb Hameed led a Lancashire fightback with an unbeaten 81 as this topsy-turvey Specsavers County Championship match continued its gripping journey.
The day ended with Lancashire on 170-5, leading by 215 runs at the close, with the final outcome tomorrow still in the balance.
Resuming on 202-6 and trailing by 106, Keith Barker and Tim Ambrose set a new Warwickshire partnership record of 125 for the 7th wicket against Lancashire at the start of the day, but moments after bettering the previous record of 123 from way back in 1911, Barker was out for 64 after edging a Tom Smith delivery that left him off the pitch, Steven Croft gloving the catch.
It was just the start Lancashire wanted with the visitors on 219-7 but Ambrose and Jeetan Patel steadily eroded the deficit with 34-run alliance in 11 overs before the innings ended in sensational fashion.
After having ‘a day to remember’ with two wickets on his debut yesterday, young leg spinner Matt Parkinson will be in dreamland tonight after taking three more wickets to finish with the outstanding figures of 5-49 as Warwickshire collapsed to 263 all out.
Having made 19, Patel top edged a sweep off Parkinson that looped straight to Neil Wagner at short fine leg. For the next delivery Parkinson turned the ball sharply to bowl Boyd Rankin through the gate, and two overs later produced another beauty that beat Oliver Hannon-Dalby’s forward push to end the innings with the visitors 45 runs in arrears.
It was the first five-wicket haul on first-class debut by a Red Rose bowler since Simon Kerrigan’s 5-43 against Warwickshire at Old Trafford in 2010, and Parkinson is the youngest bowler ever to achieve this feat for Lancashire.
Parkinson is only the second England leg-spinner to take five wickets on his County Championship debut since 1946. Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid is the other with 6-67, also against Warwickshire at Scarborough, in 2006.
It was also nice to see a young leg spinner take his opportunity and perform so well, turning the ball sharply and troubling every batsman.
Buoyed by their effort with the ball Lancashire built on their lead cautiously with Tom Smith and Haseeb Hameed adding 52 for the opening wicket from 26 overs during the early part of the afternoon session.
Smith departed for 19 after top edging a pull off Rankin to Patel at deep square leg, while Luke Procter shared 35 for the second wicket with Hameed before edging Barker to Chopra at first slip shortly after tea having made 21.
This game however has been one of fluctuating fortunes throughout and it took another dramatic twist as Lancashire lost three wickets in 5 balls to unexpectedly find themselves in trouble.
For the fourth time in the match we saw two wickets fall in two balls, Alviro Petersen driving Barker to Clarke at cover for 5 and then Steven Croft nicking his first ball from Barker to wicketkeeper Ambrose.
Karl Brown took a single from the hat-trick ball but then edged Patel to Ambrose at the start of the following over to leave Lancashire on 104-5.
Hameed continued to repel everything the Warwickshire attack could muster, going to his half century from 128 balls and finding good support from Liam Livingstone during the latter part of the evening session.
Livingstone struck a Rikki Clarke delivery for six off the front foot high into the stands at long-on, but that exceptional shot was out of context to the more dogged approach required by the batsmen on a wicket still offering the bowlers some assistance.
The Red Rose pair, who came together when Lancashire were only a perilous 149 in front, batted with great determination to add a vital 66 runs by the close, Hameed on 74 and Livingstone on 29, extending the lead to 215 runs.
Centuries by Haseeb Hameed and Liam Livingstone were the highlight of the fourth day of this Specsavers County Championship match as the game eventually petered out to a draw.
Set 312 to win from a minimum of 72 overs after Lancashire declared on 266-8, Warwickshire had made 195-2 by the time the teams shook hands with six overs left.
After three days of fairly dramatic cricket, despite the first morning lost to rain, it was a fairly low-key finish although the game will be remembered fondly for the emergence of leg spinner Matt Parkinson plus the aforementioned centuries by two young Lancashire batsmen.
At the start of the day Livingstone, 39 not out overnight, soon reached fifty-for the fifth time in 10 first-class innings-as Lancashire, 170-5 and leading Warwickshire by 215 runs, set off in search of quick runs.
Both Haseeb Hameed and Livingstone played with increasing freedom during the early part of the morning, plundering three boundaries from one over by Jeetan Patel, as the lead passed the 250-mark.
Livingstone-a 22 year-old playing in just his 8th first-class game lest we forget- moved on swiftly after reaching his fifty including five fours, adding seven more boundaries to his tally with some clean striking of the ball.
Hameed reached his maiden first-class century just after the hour mark from 291 balls including seven fours before falling lbw to Rikki Clarke for 103 having added 137 runs with Livingstone for the sixth wicket.
It was a hugely impressive innings from the 19 years-old batsman, who had held the innings together with some aplomb, seemingly unfazed by the clatter of wickets at the other end yesterday or the pressure of having to score quickly today.
In fact Hameed was the first of three wickets to fall in 4 balls as Clarke produced a triple-wicket maiden over, aided by Arron Lilley and Neil Wagner swinging the bat as all the Lancashire batsmen hit out. Quirkily, Clarke was the fifth bowler to be on a hat-trick in this match which must be some sort of record.
Livingstone continued his fine contribution with a six off Clarke into the pavilion and then reached his century from 115 balls when straight driving the following delivery for four, with his second fifty runs arriving from just 35 balls.
The declaration followed swiftly with Lancashire on 266-8 having added 96 runs in 22 overs during the session, with Livingstone 106 not out.
Warwickshire started their 2nd innings well with Varun Chopra and Andy Umeed compiling their second fifty partnership of the match.
It was Kyle Jarvis who made the breakthrough when Umeed on 17 edged an attempted steer to Steven Croft with the score 52-1.
It was just reward for Jarvis who bowled beautifully from the Pavilion End while fellow paceman Neil Wagner could count himself unfortunate not to have put his name in the wickets column after beating the bat on several occasions.
Leg spinner Matt Parkinson, introduced into the attack as early as the fifth over, struck next after causing no end of difficulties for the visiting batsmen, when his top spinner trapped Chopra lbw for 47 with the score on 84-2.
Facing tricky conditions and some good spin bowling from Parkinson and Arron Lilley, Warwickshire opted to defend from theron with just one boundary struck in the 28 overs before tea.
Parkinson found good spin and drift to come close to further success on many occasions, while Lilley likewise troubled both batsmen without any luck.
Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott mounted a dogged defence for the visitors, reaching their 50 partnership from 155 balls, and they settled in as conditions eased over the final session.
There was time for Bell to go to his fifty from 164 balls with 6 fours while Trott likewise reached his half-century from 124 balls with 6 fours just before the close, their partnership of 111 runs taking up just under 42 overs as Warwickshire finished on 195-2.
The draw resulted in Lancashire gaining 11 points, to stay joint top of the Division One table with Yorkshire who also drew, while Warwickshire gained 10 points.