Lancashire's batsmen were pushed hard early on the opening day of their two-day friendly against the MCC Young Cricketers at Abu Dhabi today - but Luke Procter stood out thanks to an eye-catching hundred.
Procter, who shared an important stand of 138 inside 30 overs for the fifth wicket with middle order colleague Jordan Clark, top-scored with 114 off 143 balls, including 17 fours and two sixes.
And Lancashire closed on an encouraging 391-9 from their 90 overs. Like Procter, fast bowler Oliver Newby's 50 not out was his highest score in the county's first-team colours.
Newby and Simon Kerrigan (29 not out) shared an unbroken 66 for the last wicket after an early evening wobble.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, the County Champions fell from 38-0 to 93-4 in the surroundings of the brand new Nursery Ground at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, where England recently played Test, one-day and Twenty20 internationals against Pakistan.
Fast bowler Jamie Porter struck a couple of early blows, bowling Karl Brown (24) before having captain Steven Croft caught at second slip for a nine-ball duck.
Opening batsman Stephen Moore raced out of the blocks with six fours in the first three overs, looking particularly strong through mid-wicket. But Tom Hampton responded well from some early damage when he sent Moore's off-stump cartwheeling for 27 off 18 balls.
That left the Red Rose one down in the fifth over, and the MCC youngsters caused problems as Andrea Agathangelou and Procter both offered early chances.
But, after seeing Agathangelou edge Dan Hampton behind the stumps for 18 and Croft follow shortly afterwards, the left-hander from Royton ensured the scoreboard ticked along at a healthy rate.
The signs of a recovery were there in the final over of the morning session when Clark slog-swept Adam Dobb's off-spin for six over mid-wicket.
The pair added 60 runs in the first eleven overs of the afternoon, and Procter reached his fifty with a six over mid-wicket off Dobb, posting his milestone off 62 balls with eight fours.
The three-figure stand followed shortly afterwards as the youngsters found life hard work in the desert sunshine.
Clark was fifth man out when he failed to make his ground at the striker's end, Henry Nicholls with the direct hit from the covers to leave the score at 231-5 in the 50th over.
Procter reached three figures with a leg-glanced boundary off Billy Root's medium pace - brother of England Lions and Yorkshire batsman Joe - not long afterwards. He had faced 113 balls and hit 14 fours and two sixes.
"It was quite difficult out there because it was my first hit in a match situation in a while," said Procter, 23. "If the bowlers get it in the right areas, it's jagging around a little bit. It's just great to get off to a good start. Hopefully I can carry it on."
Wicketkeeper Gareth Cross also found the fence five times before tea, which Lancashire reached at 275-5 with Procter on 110.
Procter was then one of two wickets to fall in the space of four balls shortly after the interval as Adam Hose and Tom Hampton struck to remove him and Kyle Hogg for a duck, both caught behind by Scott McKechnie. That left the score at 282-7 in the 62nd over.
And, when Cross found Porter at mid-wicket off Tom Hampton's bowling to go for 26, Lancashire were 283-8.
Naqaash Tahir hit four fours in 17 balls before he was caught at first slip off new ball bowler Jordan Rollings - the score on 325 in the 74th. But Newby and last man Kerrigan prolonged the YC's agony.
Lancashire are expected to declare overnight and bowl at their opponents tomorrow.
Opening batsman Moore added: "It's been brilliant for us to get out in the middle after so long indoors. It's shaken a few cobwebs away from a few people, and hopefully we can continue to prepare well."
Photo & Article (c) Lancashire CCC