Head Coach Peter Moores has hailed return of batsman Mal Loye after the 36 year-old showed promising signs of good form on his return to first team action against Somerset at Old Trafford this week.
Loye hit 31 and 39 in either innings of his first Championship match since last September following ongoing knee and calf problems.
The former Northants man played a major part in ensuring that there were not any damaging morning and afternoon wobbles by sharing a second wicket partnership of 106 with Paul Horton, who top scored with 68 off 118 balls.
Lancashire, despite losing four late wickets, were able to bat out the majority of the day for a nine-point draw that keeeps them in second place in LV Division One after four matches.
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Left-arm spinner Gary Keedy claimed the last three Somerset wickets to fall in their first innings this morning to finish with an impressive 4-86 from 25.5 overs.
The veteran twirler removed Alfonso Thomas and David Stiff, who both skied catches to Ashwell Prince at mid-wicket, and then Charl Willoughby well caught by a tumbling Glen Chapple at mid-on.Ben Phillips finished 41 not out off 62 balls to help his side to 343 all out.
Realistically, Somerset were the only side with a chance of winning this fixture going into today’s final day. They would, therefore, have been boosted by taking the wicket of Tom Smith for a duck with just the fourth ball of the home side’s second innings.
Left-handed opener Smith fended the fourth ball of the innings from Stiff to Phillips in the gully to leave the hosts at 0-1, but Horton and Loye took the game into calmer waters as far as Lancashire were concerned with their second wicket stand.
Loye faced 139 balls for his 39, and Moores said: “Once he knew that the game wasn’t going anywhere, he wanted to spend some time at the crease. He got a couple of sessions under his belt, he played well, and will feel a lot better for that. We have got a big game coming up against Durham, where runs will be at a premium, so it sets him up nicely for that.”
Horton, the 26 year-old opener, not only recorded his second score of 50 or above in the match, but also of the current LV Division One campaign. He hit 69 in the first innings, but failed to match it today by just one run, hitting 14 boundaries.
Horton departed in the 36th over of Lancashire’s second innings when he slashed Willoughby to Arul Suppiah at point. Loye was trapped lbw by Zander de Bruyn (3-47 from nine overs) with the last ball before tea, and Prince (34) and Mark Chilton also followed to the South African. Francois du Plessis was also caught at first slip by Justin Langer off the spin of Suppiah.
Moores added: “Credit should go to the groundsman, Matt Merchant, because it was a really good cricket wicket. It had real pace and bounce, while Gary Keedy started to get some turn. It’s a shame that it didn’t go its full course because it would have been a good game of cricket.”
[3rd day report] [2nd day report]
Photos: Simon Pendrigh
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