Lancashire may not have managed to force victory against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl today, but this was one of their most impressive County Championship displays of the season so far.
Without the bowling experience of Glen Chapple and Sajid Mahmood, they managed to restrict the visitors to 337 all out in their first innings thanks to four wickets each for Oliver Newby and Kyle Hogg on Friday.
VVS Laxman hit an impressive 135 off 177 balls on Saturday, although he was out off the third ball of today’s fourth day.
95 from Tom Smith and 86 not out for Francois du Plessis – both of which were Championship bests – enabled the Red Rose to post a mammoth first innings total of 568-5 declared.
They gained a lead of 231 by mid-morning yesterday on what was still a pretty flat wicket, giving themselves a minimum of 82 overs to try and force their fourth Championship win of the season.
They gave it a good go, but in-form Michael Carberry recorded his fourth score of 100 or more in his last six Championship innings. Carberry finished the day 136 not out as his side closed the match out at 229-3 after 69 overs of their second innings.
“It was tough, but I thought we bowled well,” said coach Peter Moores. “We needed to get a couple of early wickets to put panic in the Hampshire batting line up, but that didn’t happen.
“The spinners toiled away manfully. Though it turned, nothing did sharply.”
The Red Rose county declared their first innings with a lead of 231 midway through the morning session of the final day with Francois du Plessis on 86 not out. Du Plessis had cracked 13 fours and one six in his positive 88-ball knock, but he did not get the opportunity to reach his maiden Championship hundred. Stand-in captain Luke Sutton declared after one ball of the 145th over in doing so giving Lancashire time in which to try and force a result.
Laxman had been caught at slip by Sean Ervine off the bowling of David Griffiths with the third ball of the day, giving Griffiths admirable figures of 4-103 from 27 overs. Du Plessis and Sutton then added an unbroken 81 in 11.1 overs for the sixth wicket, the latter adding 30 of them at a run-a-ball.
Tom Smith failed to take the field with a stomach injury, but that proved to be the first of three injury worries for the visitors.
The Red Rose took three wickets in the afternoon session, with Hogg bowling Jimmy Adams, Stephen Parry having John Crawley caught at slip by VVS Laxman for his maiden Championship wicket and Gary Keedy removing James Vince in similar fashion.
But Paul Horton and Steven Croft, who was the substitute for Smith, both went off the field during the middle session of the day.
Horton’s temple took the brunt of a fierce Vince drive whilst fielding at silly point off the bowling of Parry, while Croft was cracked on the back of the knee by a Vince sweep – also off the bowling of Parry.
Physiotherapist Sam Byrne was busy, while Steven Mullaney and analyst Jason Swift were called into action as substitute fielders. Mark Chilton was also hit at short-leg after tea, but stayed on the park.
Carberry recorded his fourth Championship hundred in six innings off 172 balls. When time was called, he had faced 229 balls and hit 18 fours and two sixes.
He had been dropped twice, offering a sharp chance to Mal Loye in the gully on 67 off the bowling of Newby - and surviving when Parry spilled a chance running back from slip off du Plessis on 131.
By the time Parry carpeted his chance, offered up after a top edged sweep, the horse had already bolted as far as Lancashire’s chances of victory were concerned.
Even so, they should be pretty pleased with the 12 point haul they take into Tuesday’s home match against LV Division One leaders Durham.
“We are batting really well now,” said Moores, who added that all of his injured players will be assessed tomorrow. “To get maximum batting points twice in two matches is a challenge the players have stood up to.”
[Day 1 Report I Day 2 Report I Day 3 Report]
Graham Hardcastle reporting from the RoseBowl
Photo: Simon Pendrigh