Kerrigan leads Lancs to convincing victory
Lancashire clinched an innings victory just before tea on this final day to go second in the Specsavers County Championship table after three games, with Simon Kerrigan claiming a five-wicket haul as Hampshire were bowled out for 253.
Play resumed under dull, cloudy skies which required the use of the floodlights but it only took five overs for Lancashire to make a breakthrough.
James Vince had driven James Anderson straight for four but then appeared in two minds over his shot selection to the next delivery, his checked drive going straight to Neil Wagner fielding half way down the wicket at short straight cover.
Ahead of the Test squad announcement tomorrow morning, the good news for England is that Anderson, in his last game for the Red Rose before the international summer, looks in fine form and is bowling beautifully.
That wicket left Hampshire on 88-3 and Will Smith and Liam Dawson continued the visitors’ rearguard action offering very few shots as they defended stoutly with 23 runs arriving from the following 14 overs.
Dawson then stroked Kerrigan for consecutive boundaries, followed by four byes when the spinner turned the next ball sharply past the bat. The left arm spinner wasn’t to be denied, ending the partnership when Dawson, pushing forward, edged to Steven Croft close in at gully for 18, the fourth wicket falling with the score on 125.
Smith and Adam Wheater endured a difficult period in the run-up to lunch as Kerrigan and Liam Livingstone found an increasing amount of turn that caused a number of problems for both batsman.
The new ball became due immediately after the interval and it was Kyle Jarvis who struck first when he cut a delivery back to trap Smith lbw for 45 seven overs into the afternoon.
Despite a number of close calls, with Anderson and Jarvis seeing edges go over and fall short of the slips, Wheater and Ryan McLaren stuck to their task to take Hampshire to 208-5 with 40 overs remaining.
The loss of three wickets for 22 runs in 33 balls dissolved the visitors’ remaining resistance.
Simon Kerrigan struck twice removing Wheater lbw for 47 and McLaren for 15 to a good diving catch by Anderson running from second slip to snare a top edge.
Livingstone then claimed his first first-class wicket when bamboozling Tino Best lbw for 6.
It was Kerrigan who clinched an emphatic victory, and a five-wicket haul-his first in Division One since his 9-51 against the same opponents at Liverpool in 2011-by taking the final two wickets. Gareth Andrew fell for 21 to a catch at forward short leg by Haseeb Hameed and Mason Crane top edged a sweep to Livingstone at leg slip.
Lancashire’s victory, by an innings and 94 runs, earned 23 points while Hampshire took 1 point from the game.
It was a great week for Simon Kerrigan, who celebrated his 27th birthday yesterday.
“For me psonally getting a five-for and bowling well is great.” he agreed. “Hopefully it’s the first of many this year, but more importantly the team have played some great cricket again, which we’ve done in all three games so far.
“It’s a testament to how the lads have played. We’ve batted well, got big scores on the board, and then built pressure with the ball after taking wickets in the first innings.
Kerrigan was pleased with his form so far.
“It feels like the ball is coming out well,” he said. “I’ve been in great rhythm in the nets. I’ve felt good in the games so far and it was good to get the wickets today.
“Over the last couple of years I’ve not really done as well as I did in my first few seasons when I came onto the staff, so it was good to get some wickets in the second innings.
The change to the toss and the seemingly better wickets around this season bode well for all spinners.
“It was a great wicket,” said Kerrigan. “It seamed on day one, it turned on day four and it was good to bat on in-between. You know what you are getting with Old Trafford wickets; they offer something if you bowl well on them.
Kerrigan finished with an 11 over spell this afternoon and agreed it can be difficult to get the ball out of his hand when it’s going well.
“Hopefully I can get more of that this year,” he grinned.
A number of pundits doubted Lancashire’s chances in Division One and Kerrigan admitted it had been talked about in the dressing room.
“We were written off before a ball had been bowled,” he said. “That’s motivated the lads. We've got a big score in every game so far and we’ve bowled well.
“It’s a reminder every time we go out there we are scrapping, and I think when we are scrapping we are good.
“Wins are going to be hard to come by looking at how the fixtures have gone so far. The wickets seem to be a bit flatter. So every win, every point is going to be vital.
“We lose Jimmy to England now, but we’ve got other lads in the squad to come through. I’ve no doubts in my mind about them coming in and doing well in that spot.
Head Coach Ashley Giles was pleased how his side have performed so far.
“We are delighted with the way we have played our cricket and two home games and two wins is very nice," he said.
“Over the three matches we have played some really disciplined cricket and seen some very good individual performances.
“There have been critics about this team, and a lot of people backing us to go straight back down. There is still a long way to go this season, but if we continue to play in this manner, even without victories, we will be in a good spot.
“So I am pleased for all the lads in the side because they have worked incredibly hard and are getting their rewards now.
“We thoroughly deserved that win, and I think Hampshire would say that too.
“From ball one we have played some good cricket, and there is a really good vibe in the dressing room at the moment.
“It is a team effort and we realistically could be sat here with three wins from three.
“We played the better cricket in all three games and we have a big one now coming up against Durham which is a very difficult place to go and win.
“But we should be confident going into that game.”
“We have talked a lot this year about being relentless, with our disciplines and we have done that well with the ball.
“We have fought well with the bat, but with the ball we have consistently hit a good length, bowling at the top of off-stump, bowling maidens.
“It helps if you have Jimmy Anderson in your team but everyone has played a part in that.