Worcestershire pace bowler Matt Mason left Lancashire's batting in complete tatters on the opening day of an entertaining LV County Championship clash at Old Trafford today.
The veteran Australian claimed five wickets in five overs to help reduce the hosts from 38-2 to 77-7. Mason conceded 14 runs in his first over, but came back superbly to end his 14-over spell with 5-19, including eleven maidens.
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Eighteen wickets fell in the day, and Lancashire scrambled to 119-8 at close thanks to a valuable unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 37 between Glen Chapple and Oliver Newby. They trail by 53 after the wickets were shared while bowling Worcestershire out for 172 inside 58 overs.
Kyle Hogg finished the pick of the bowlers with 3-26 from twelve overs - his best Championship figures for more than seven years. Sajid Mahmood finished with 3-51, while wicketkeeper Steven Davies added the top score of the day - 39 off 58 balls.
“We are not batting well enough, we have known that for a while,” said coach Peter Moores. “We can't just rely on bowling sides out, which we have had to do a bit.
“We didn't get through the first part. We have got to get a situation where we can see off the new ball. It wasn't easy batting for both sides. The pitch has pace, and it swung all day, but it doesn't mean you can't bat on it.
“We lost wickets with the new ball. I think Mason was coming off two or three times, but every time we lost a wicket and he kept going. We're in a scrap, but because both side's scores are so low we’re still in the game.”
Lancashire were invited to bowl first and Mahmood and Newby removed openers Daryl Mitchell and Stephen Moore to leave the score at 35-2. Vikram Solanki and Ben Smith steadied things with a 36-run partnership for the third wicket, but captain Chapple removed England Lions man Solanki for 35, caught behind by Luke Sutton.
Hogg, who spent a month’s loan spell at Worcestershire two years ago, recorded four maidens in his first five overs. He also trapped Smith lbw to leave the Pears at 81-4 just before lunch. And with the last ball of the first over after the break he removed Moeen Ali in exactly the same manner.
Chapple picked up his side’s third lbw decision of the day in the 36th over, that of Australian bowler Ashley Noffke, and then Hogg had Gareth Batty strangled down the leg-side. Worcestershire were in the mire at 104-7 in the 39th over.
Wicketkeeper Davies tried his best to rescue things with six fours in an attractive knock before he was caught behind off the bowling of Mahmood.
Gareth Andrew was run out by Newby in his follow through, and Mason gave Mahmood his third wicket by offering a caught and bowled chance to end the innings.
Mal Loye flicked and edge three boundaries in Mason’s first over before Paul Horton fell to Noffke in the third over, caught at third slip by Solanki. Mark Chilton fell the same way – but this was a better catch for skipper Solanki - to leave the score at 38-2 in the 13th over.
Mason then charged in to claim his five wickets by trapping Loye, VVS Laxman and later Hogg lbw, Steven Croft caught at second slip by Ben Smith and Sutton caught by Batty at gully.
Mahmood was then bowled by Noffke before Chapple and Newby at least added some cheer to a difficult evening session.
Moores was dealt a blow in the lead up to the game with the news that Francois du Plessis had not recovered from his calf strain. It meant that he only went into the game with five specialist batsmen.
“We wanted to play four seamers, we thought there would be pace in the pitch,” explained Moores. “Glen Chapple has got a bit of ankle pain, which is manageable. If we played three seamers on top of Crofty, the chances are that his workload would be too high.”
It promises to be a fascinating day at Old Trafford tomorrow.
Photos: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd