An unbroken seventh wicket partnership of 76 between Steven Croft and Glen Chapple ensured a draw against Somerset at Old Trafford today.
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Alfonso Thomas, a thorn in the side of the Red Rose all week, had given the visitors hope of an unlikely victory with four wickets to reduce Lancashire to 100-4 in the first over after lunch.
They also fell to 145-6 in the 65th over, with a lead of only 54 and a session and a half to go, but Croft and Chapple united to clinch an eight point draw which keeps their side in the top three places of LV= Division One.
“All credit to them,” said Lancashire coach Peter Moores. “I thought Thomas bowled really well either side of lunch to put us under pressure, but it was nice to get there without having to scramble at the end. Crofty steered us home and Chappie did what he does best, getting stuck in.”
Both sets of players shook hands at 5pm with the score at 221-6 after 90 overs. Croft finished 66 not out off 128 balls, including nine fours and a six.
Thomas claimed four of the six wickets to fall, including three of them for five runs in a 15-ball spell either side of lunch, and finished with a season’s best 4-33 from 19 overs.
The South African knocked over Luke Sutton’s middle pole in the tenth over of the day for 38, and later bowled Paul Horton and forced Stephen Moore (31) to chop on in consecutive overs to leave Lancashire shaking at 97-3.
Thomas would have had his fourth before lunch had Marcus Trescothick not grassed a chance at first slip to get rid of compatriot Ashwell Prince. But Thomas did not have to wait too much longer because he snared Prince with the first ball of the afternoon session, caught behind by Jos Buttler for three.
Leg-spinner Michael Munday then took a wicket with his first ball of the innings, removing Mark Chilton caught at slip by Trescothick, before Damien Wright forced Kyle Hogg into a loose push to Nick Compton in the gully.
At that stage Somerset were sniffing their first victory of the season, but that thought was scotched by Croft and Chapple.
Croft kick-started his innings with a six over long-on off Munday before cutting and pulling with effect on the way 50. He reached his sixth half century in seven Championship innings, including the last game of last season, with a hooked four off left-arm seamer Charl Willoughby off 94 balls.
And, while Chapple was happy to play a supporting role, he still hit four boundaries on the way to 30 not out.
Croft took himself passed the 350-run mark for the Championship summer, and Moores continued: “He’s started great. He looks confident when he’s at the crease, and he’s got some really good rhythm. The key for him is to continue that now. It’s a good time for him to be in form because there’s a lot of cricket coming up.”