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Match Report STORY
Croft puts Lancs in command
Croft puts Lancs in command
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Steven Croft scored his fourth century in the County Championship to help put Lancashire into a commanding position on day one against Somerset

The batting all-rounder, who hit the winning runs at Taunton last September when the Red Rose sealed the title, fashioned a recovery from 2-1 in the first over on the back of successive defeats to start the 2012 campaign.

Croft and in-form overseas player Ashwell Prince, who also hit an entertaining 96, shared a fourth-wicket stand of 208 inside 50 overs to take the score from 118-3 in the first over after lunch to 326-3 after tea.

Their partnership, which came at a rate of 4.23 runs per over and helped to clinch four batting points, fell only eight runs short of the club's record fourth-wicket stand in matches against Somerset, something which Steve O'Shaughnessy and David Hughes achieved in 1984.

When bad light brought a premature end to the day, the Red Rose had reached 363-4 from 86 overs. Croft will resume tomorrow morning on 113 not out with Gareth Cross, pushed one place up the order, on 20.

"We're in a really good position," admitted Croft. "There's nothing better than runs on the board, and hopefully we can kick on tomorrow.

"With both bat and ball we've probably lacked two people to get out there and stick their hands up. I thoroughly enjoyed batting with Ash. He's brilliant to bat with, and he kept me going.

"There's no better place to bat in county cricket than Taunton because you get full value for  your shots. Hopefully it's a kick-start to our season."

Somerset, without the likes of experienced bowlers Alfonso Thomas, Steve Kirby and Gemaal Hussain, paid the price for lacking consistency and bowling too many boundary balls. They also bowled 13 no-balls.

Glen Chapple, making his 269th appearance, has played 40 more first-class matches than Somerset's six-pronged attack combined, which includes South Africa Test bowler Vernon Philander.

Stephen Moore, who made 47, shared 95 for the second wicket with Karl Brown to lay the platform for a super day.

Lancashire, who selected fast bowler Sajid Mahmood ahead of left-arm spinner Gary Keedy, recovered from losing Paul Horton to the fifth ball of the match, trapped lbw by Philander for two.

Brown looked particularly classy as he drove the covers, and Moore looked in good nick too as he passed 20 for the first time in nine first-class innings this season, emphatically pulling debutant seamer Craig Overton over the ropes.

Brown reached his 50, which included eight fours, off 82 balls, but fell two balls later without adding to his score when he was trapped lbw by Lewis Gregory, the seamer who went for 49 runs in his five overs. That left Lancashire at 97-2 in the 26th. 

Moore then fell to the first ball after lunch, trapped lbw by Trego as he propped forward.

Croft slog-swept Irish left-arm spinner George Dockrell for two sixes over mid-wicket and deep backward square-leg, while Prince, dropped in the slips by stand-in skipper James Hildreth on seven, punted the same bowler over the fence at long-on.

Croft reached his hundred off 153 balls, also including ten fours, shortly before Prince fell to Overton.

The left-hander, who faced 159 balls and found the boundary 12 times, look furious with himself at the manner of his dismissal, punching a short ball straight to Nick Compton at short mid-wicket. Still, his second score of 50 or more this summer was crucial.

Cross came in and played positively, and he and Croft need only 13 more to record their half-century stand in the morning.

There was further encouragement for the Red Rose during the latter stages of the day when a ball from Dockrell spun sharply and bounced past Croft's outside edged, something which did not escape Kerrigan's attention in the visiting dressing room.

"From Dockrell's end (River End), it looked like there might be some turn there," said Croft. "There were a few that stopped a bit, but only one that really turned and bounced.

"They're good signs for Keggsy in the second and fourth innings. He would have noticed that. Like every spinner, nothing escapes their attention."

Graham Hardcastle
Photo of Steven Croft (c) David Davies/PA Images
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd

 

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