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Match Report STORY
Croft and Smith lift Lancs
Croft and Smith lift Lancs
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Lancashire were more than happy with their opening day's work against Yorkshire at Headingley

White Rose captain Andrew Gale elected to bowl first in helpful conditions – both overhead and off the pitch - but the visitors fought hard to close on 304-7 after 85.3 overs thanks mainly to fifties for Steven Croft and Tom Smith.

Ryan Sidebottom claimed three wickets and England hopeful Ajmal Shahzad two as Glen Chapple’s high-flyers were boosted by Croft’s determined 54 off 108 balls and Smith’s counter-attacking 51 off 81.

Croft and Smith, who hit 17 boundaries between them, shared 77 for the fifth wicket, but Croft lost sight of a Shahzad full toss the ball before tea and was bowled.

As close approached, Sajid Mahmood then hit two sixes over long-on off Adil Rashid to finish on 27 not out, sharing an unbroken 53 inside eight overs for the eighth wicket with skipper Chapple.

Close of play was premature due to a couple of brief rain showers and finally bad light, but Lancashire won’t mind too much.

It may have worked to their advantage had they managed to stay out for the last three and a half overs, but coach Peter Moores was chuffed to bits nonetheless.

He said: “We played pretty well. The ball did something all day, but we did what we’ve done all season. We fought really hard and put partnerships together in order to build a score.

“We played some really positive cricket to get ourselves in a good position.

“It’s seaming and it’s swinging, and it’s not been easy for batting. But we’re really pleased to have pushed on. Saj and Chappie made sure we finished the day on a high.”

Paul Horton, Karl Brown and Mark Chilton all got in, but failed to push on as Sidebottom, Shahzad and Rich Pyrah in particular were all dangerous.

This track is far from a bowler’s paradise, but it’s no batter’s graveyard either. There is help available off the pitch and through the air, and Moores did say that runs could be hard to come by.

But they can come, as Lancashire proved. Croft was dropped on 25 by Anthony McGrath at second slip off Sidebottom during the first half of the afternoon session, while a number of batsmen edged wide or over the slips.

Brown and Smith will be frustrated at the manner of their dismissals, but the rest were victims of good bowling.

Brown slashed a wide ball from Sidebottom to Jacques Rudolph at first slip for 22 during the morning session.

With Stephen Moore already having been trapped lbw by Sidebottom in the third over, Brown’s departure left the visitors at 41-2 after 13.   

Horton then went for 36 with the eighth ball of the afternoon session, caught behind off a lifting Shahzad delivery. Chilton followed for 33, caught at second slip by McGrath off Sidebottom, leaving the score at 116-4 in the 42nd over.

Croft reached his first fifty since early May off 96 balls, including eight fours.

It left Moores saying: “It’s as well as I’ve seen Crofty play. He was positive, he batted with the right tempo and put the bad ball away on a pitch where runs could be hard to come by.”

After a couple of brief rain showers, Smith reached his milestone off 79 balls, including nine fours, but presented Iain Wardlaw with a maiden Championship wicket when he slashed behind two balls later.

Cross was then trapped lbw by Pyrah for 30, but Lancs secured a third batting point before close.

Graham Hardcastle
Photo (c) PA Images
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