Mark Chilton's unbeaten 68 proved crucial as Lancashire battled hard with the bat against Durham on a rain affected opening day of their LV= County Championship match at Old Trafford.
Chilton, batting at No.3, played the anchor role superbly as the hosts were forced into a rearguard action on a testing track.
He shared partnerships of 42 with Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 36 with Steven Croft, and an unbroken 36 with Gareth Cross to steer Lancs to 131-4 after the Red Rose side had earlier been reduced to 17-2 in the tenth over.
The 33 year-old brought up his 50 off 86 balls with eight fours, and he had hit ten boundaries in 123 balls at the close of play.
Peter Moores described him as “key” to his side’s hopes of winning this match: “You want to play in a game where you know that a hundred from somebody could win you the game. That’s exciting, and Mark Chilton is in that situation now. If he goes on and gets a significant score, it might make the difference,” he said.
Glen Chapple won the toss and elected to bat, but Mitch Claydon took two wickets with the new ball. Tom Smith was caught behind by Phil Mustard and Paul Horton caught at point by Ben Stokes.
Left arm spinner Ian Blackwell later trapped West Indian Chanderpaul lbw on his home debut to leave Lancs at 59-3 in the 26th over before getting Croft caught at first slip by Michael Di Venuto.
Both sides have picked two spinners, and Blackwell got some considerable turn. There was also some movement for the pace bowlers such as Steve Harmison, Claydon and Liam Plunkett.
Moores continued: “It’s a pitch we’ve used before (40-over match against Sussex). We don’t expect it to get any better. We’re banking on this being the best time to bat. There is turn, but there is also something in it for the seamer.”
Durham could have been in complete control had they not dropped Chilton on six. Di Venuto spilled an easy chance at second slip off the bowling of Harmison in the eleventh over.
Chilton looked particularly strong on the drive in his innings, and earned the praise of Moores. He said: “I thought Mark played really well all the way through. He’d be very happy with the way he played, I thought he played crisply.
“He did the hard work up front today, then picked up every opportunity to score. He played the spin very well later on. He’s got 60-odd, but we’ll be looking for him to push on.”
There were three separate rain delays throughout the day, the first delaying the start of play by 25 minutes, and overall 45 overs were lost from the day.
Graham Hardcastle at Old Trafford
Photo: Simon Pendrigh, Peakpix Digital Images
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd