Hundred hero Ashwell Prince believes Lancashire have a team capable of challenging for the LV County Championship title after holding Nottinghamshire to a draw at Old Trafford today.
The 31 year-old South African Test player ensured his side recovered from 39-3, as they attempted to overhaul a first innings deficit of 178, by amassing an unbeaten 135 in an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 191 with Mark Chilton (56 not out). The players shook hands just before 5pm tonight with Lancashire on 230-3 having gained a lead of 52 runs.
[Scorecard] See the highlights tomorrow on www.LancsTV
Listen BBC Radio Lancashire's commentary of Ashwell's century.
Prince, who recorded his 25th first-class career century, said: “I feel that we have a team who can be challenging at the end of the season, so it was really important not to give them the points. Coming to the ground this morning we had obviously a lot of work to do to ensure that we didn’t give Notts, one of the favourites to win the Championship, the 14 points.
“We want to be challenging at the end of the season, so it was vital to us that we got the points. There was no chance that we could win the game, but there was a chance that we could lose it.
A defeat for Lancashire was looking likely when they fell to 39-3 in the 12th over of the innings, the eleventh of the day. Championship debutant Luke Fletcher (2-33 from 15 overs) took two out of the three wickets to fall, trapping both Tom Smith and Francois du Plessis lbw. Paul Horton was caught behind by stand-in wicketkeeper Bilal Shafayat off the bowling of Ryan Sidebottom.
Nottinghamshire’s captain Chris Read had to leave Manchester last night to attend the birth of his first child and Australian overseas player Adam Voges took over the captaincy for the final day.
Prince and Chilton batted for over two sessions, digging in to begin with, before taking the game away from Notts in the evening session. Their energetic running between the crease was a particularly impressive facet of their alliance.
When Prince reached his 25th first-class career century, off 152 balls with ten fours and two sixes, Lancashire had wiped out their first innings deficit.
He confirmed three figures with a four through third-man off the bowling of Fletcher in the over before tea, and had hit his two sixes straight off the bowling of England off-spinner Graeme Swann.
Prince’s run of scores in Championship cricket for Lancashire reads 56, 91 not out, both at Sussex, 74 and now 135 not out.
“I was confident having got three fifties before,” continued Prince, who spent a brief spell as the overseas player at Trent Bridge last summer. “But I was also a little bit disappointed not to have made one of those a hundred. Today I was determined not to give it away.
“I didn’t have a good time at Notts last season, and obviously I wanted to prove a point. I am really happy that I could dig in today. I think it helped a lot, knowing their bowlers.”
Prince reached his milestone in the over before tea, having earlier hit England spinner Graeme Swann for two straight sixes, while Chilton recorded his second half-century of the season off 157 balls after the break.
“We had a chat this morning before things started that we needed two people to dig in,” added the South African. “We needed one big partnership to get that lead knocked off. Thankfully the two of us did it together.”
[Day 1 Report] [Day 2 Report] [Day 3 Report]
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
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