Lancashire poised to seal first win
Lancashire are poised on the brink of victory after a superb bowling performance saw Nottinghamshire bowled out for 175 on this third day of the opening Specsavers County Championship match. It means Steven Croft’s side need 86 runs to win when play resumes tomorrow morning.
Neil Wagner was the Red Rose hero taking 5-45, finishing with match figures of 11-111, and his effort was well backed up by the rest of the attack on an absorbing day at Emirates Old Trafford.
Seven runs from the day’s first over heralded Lancashire’s positive approach to extending their first innings lead, but they were quickly pegged back when Liam Livingstone was lbw to Jake Ball’s first delivery of the morning for 70. Simon Kerrigan twice lofted Samit Patel to the long-on boundary in making 13 not out before Kyle Jarvis on 37 edged Patel to slip to curtail the innings at 332, a lead of 90 runs.
James Anderson and Kyle Jarvis then bowled some outstanding deliveries without reward when Nottinghamshire started their second innings. Both regularly beat the bat, with Greg Smith inside edging the unfortunate Anderson for four, while Jarvis started with five consecutive maidens and was desperately close to a breakthrough on several occasions.
Neil Wagner at one point bowled to a field with no-one bar the slips and gully on the off-side and several fielders in catching positions on the leg side, as Steven Croft attempted different strategies against two batsmen who were dogged in their resistance. Steven Mullaney and Smith, however, battled hard throughout the morning session to steadily erode Lancashire’s lead, and steer the visitors to 35-0 from 26 overs at lunch.
The afternoon session belonged to Lancashire who captured four wickets while restricting the visitors lead to 17 runs.
The first breakthrough arrived eight overs into the session when Anderson produced a beauty to remove Mullaney’s off stump, with the batsman departing for 21 from 104 balls after playing back to a ball that kept fractionally low.
Kerrigan followed that with the wicket of Smith for 41 who advanced down the wicket but drove straight to Croft at short cover, to leave Notts 76-2 still 14 runs behind.
Anderson, bowling from the Pavilion End, continued to beat the bat with Michael Lumb enduring a difficult start to his innings, and the England quick was also frustrated when having a couple of big lbw appeals turned down in a spell of 11-3-17-1.
New batsman Brendan Taylor struck Kerrigan over mid-on for four and then six, but then chipped the first ball of a new spell from Jarvis to Livingstone at mid-wicket to be out for 14 with Notts just in the lead at 93-3.
In the run-up to tea, Lumb played across a swinging delivery from Wagner to be lbw for 19 to make the score 99-4, which Samit Patel and Riki Wessels extended to 107-4 by the interval.
Lancashire then rammed home their advantage during evening session, although Wessels and Patel looked to have steadied matters when adding 34 runs during the first hour.
Then Wessels was lbw to Anderson for 16, Patel pulled Wagner to Livingstone who took a good, diving catch at deep square leg to depart for 18 and Broad was snapped up by Haseeb Hameed at short leg off Wagner for 4 to leave Notts in deep trouble on 155-7, only 65 ahead.
Lancashire’s new overseas bowler wasn’t finished though, taking two wickets in two balls just before the close when bowling Jake Ball for 5 and trapping Jackson Bird lbw first ball.
Chris Read survived the hat-trick ball and was 25 not out following his first innings half-century.
Anderson took the final wicket when Harry Gurney edged behind to Davies for 2, leaving Notts 175 all out and Lancashire needing 86 runs to win tomorrow.
James Anderson was full of praise for his bowling colleagues.
“That was a really good day because we knew it would be tough.” he said.
“At the start of the day we wanted to get a few more runs, but it was still a decent lead and I thought we bowled really well.
“Each bowler knew their job and stuck at it all day. The fielders were brilliant too, running round all day and saving every run because we knew how crucial that was.
“The pitch has been as good as a Test match pitch. There’s not been a huge amount there for seam bowlers or spinners and if you get in on it you can score runs.
“We knew we had to work hard for our wickets so we stuck at it and the pressure told in the end.
“It was a real battle, their openers batted for a long time and made it difficult for us but once we got a couple of wickets we kept chipping away and thankfully it paid off.
“I thought Neil Wagner was fantastic again. Getting eleven wickets on debut is really special and he can be really proud of that. “
Looking furher ahead, Anderson believes the performances with bat and ball over the first three days auger well for the rest of the season.
“Getting up to 330 without our top six really firing I thought was good. Obviously Alviro (Petersen) and Al Davies played really well, and also Liam Livingstone at number seven.
“If our top six can start firing as well we could be a formidable team this year, and surprise a few people, because I think a lot of people think we’re going to struggle with relegation. But there’s a lot of confidence in our dressing room, and we want to get off to a good start to kick-start our season.
“We applied ourselves really well when we batted. It was tricky at times, and Notts have got a very good bowling attack so we had to get through some tricky periods. But I thought especially the way Al and Liam counterattacked, rotated the strike and put pressure back on their bowlers, and then smashed the bad ball when it was there – that’s some serious batting, so there’s some real promise there from those guys.”
- Neil Wagner finished with 5-45 and his match figures of 11-111 are the second best by a Lancashire bowler on debut behind Cec Parkin’s 14-99 v Leicestershire at Liverpool in 1914.