Procter century boosts Lancs Southport hopes
Luke Procter hit a century on yet another scintillating day of Specsavers County Championship action at Southport as Lancashire made 333 in their second innings to set Durham a target of 247 to win tomorrow.
Procter received great support from Haseeb Hameed and Tom Moores on a day that ebbed and flowed as the two sides battled for an advantage in sweltering sunny conditions.
It was absorbing stuff enjoyed by yet another bumper crowd at Trafalgar Road, and after three days play we are no nearer knowing who might prevail tomorrow.
The third day started with a player change, Nathan Buck replacing James Anderson due to his inclusion in the England squad.
Durham’s Paul Collingwood did not take to the field due to his hand injury with Kiwi Jeremy Benton acting as substitute fielder.
Resuming on 59-1 the day got off to a cagey start as Hameed and Procter concentrated on whittling away at the 28-run deficit remaining, with just 13 runs scored during the first 8 overs of the morning.
The first four of the day arrived courtesy of an inside edge from an attempted on drive by Hameed off Rushworth but Procter produced a more authentic stroke when driving Rushworth through the covers for his first four in the ninth over.
Hameed then took three boundaries off one over from Graham Onions with a square drive off the back foot followed by a cover dive and a delicate glance to the fine leg boundary to take Lancashire into the lead.
A further boundary when Hameed guided Ben Stokes to third man took the 19 year-old to his fifty from 107 balls while Procter brought up the century partnership with a glorious cover drive off Stokes moments later.
It was exactly the start required, but just after the hour mark the pairs’ 114-run partnership came to an end when Hameed could do little about a sharply rising delivery from Stokes that struck the batsman’s glove and lobbed gently to Benton at third slip.
Alviro Petersen wasted no time in getting off the mark, sweeping Borthwick to square leg for four from his fifth delivery faced, but just before lunch the leg spinner struck back trapping Petersen lbw for 15 to leave Lancashire 160-3, leading by 73.
Steven Croft helped Procter extend the lead by 33 before he drove off spinner Adam Hickey to Borthwick at deep mid-on having made 20, and the off spinner celebrated that first-ever Championship wicket with a second when Karl Brown on 5 gave a bat/pad catch to Jennings at short leg.
That left the Red Rose with a 121-run lead at 209-5 with Procter holding the innings together a determined, gritty effort.
Resuming on 22 not out today, Procter had made his way to 67 by lunch and during one of the hottest afternoons of the year resisted everything the Durham attack could muster.
The left handed batsman survived a big let off just after the break on 73 when a running mix up left him well short of his ground, but a slightly wayward throw from mid-wicket combined with Hickey dropping the ball at the bowler’s end saw the opportunity lost.
Undeterred, Procter moved steadily onwards to reach his third first-class century, and the second of the season, shortly before tea.
It was a marathon effort that had taken four minutes short of five hours with just eight boundaries, but a hugely important one in the context of this match.
Tom Moores thumped his ninth delivery off Borthwick for six, and lent Procter good support either side of the break, which Lancashire reached on 246-5, 159 ahead.
The pair added 33 more runs on the resumption before the loss of three wickets in quick succession put the game back in the balance.
Procter’s six hour marathon ended when he was caught by Burnham at leg gully off Borthwick for 122.
Moores entertaining innings of 35 ended moments later when he was run out from cover by Paul Coughlin, and Kyle Jarvis was bowled by Borthwick for 0 to leave Lancashire on 286-8 leading by 199.
Simon Kerrigan and Nathan Buck extended that advantage by adding 28 before Kerrigan edged behind off Stokes for 19 and Buck then went on the attack hitting 18 off one Borthwick over including two sixes.
Matt Parkinson was the last man out for 0 as Lancashire totalled 333, Buck finishing unbeaten on 27 to set Durham a challenging target of 247 to win.
Luke Procter’s delight at his third career century was clear to see, and he was just as delighted to have made what may turn out to be a match winning contribution.
"I think it was pretty vital innings,” he said at the close. "It's the hardest innings I've played. It's put the team in a good position, and I'm really happy.
“We've got a lead just short of 250 now and I think it's respectable, especially with the wicket turning. It's started to turn quite a bit, with Scott Borthwick putting quite a few revs on it. Simon Kerrigan and Matty Parkinson should get something out of it as well.
"I think the pitch will deteriorate quite quickly. Hopefully it turns some more and gives our spinners more of a chance.
"The pitch is doing quite a lot of to be honest, including off the seam.
"Stokes was hitting the bat quite hard,” he said. “He bowled in decent areas, and it was good to get a hundred against him.”
Procter smiled when told his innings had lasted exactly six hours.
"Perfect,” he grinned. "It was quite hot today, and it's going to be even hotter tomorrow, so hopefully it puts their batters under even more pressure.
“We’ve got to keep our disciplines and remain patient all day. Hopefully we’ll get our rewards.”
It promises to be quite a day.
Photos (c) Simon Pendrigh