Luke Procter shone as Lancashire enjoyed better fortune under the Emirates Old Trafford floodlights this afternoon.
And Ashwell Prince hailed the rapid improvement in Procter’s game after the all-rounder finished with four wickets as Lancashire fought back strongly to bowl Worcestershire out for 334 during the latter stages of today’s second day.
South African Prince is back with the county on a two-year contract as a domestic player, and he watched on as Procter continued a fine run of form in the LV= County Championship with the ball dating back to last September.
The 24-year-old helped the Red Rose dominate the evening session by clinching two of the last four Worcestershire wickets to fall to finish with 4-58 from 23.4 overs to follow up his 7-71 against Surrey at Liverpool during the final game of last season
His return enabled him to strap his pads on as an opener and help the hosts make a solid start in reply to Worcestershire’s competitive total, reaching the halfway stage in the match at 42-0 from 19 overs.
A right-arm seam bowler and a left-handed batsman, Procter finished on 24 not out alongside Paul Horton unbeaten on 16.
Prince said: “He is underrated and underestimated by opposition teams. He gives us balance because he operates as a fourth seamer. Chapple, White and Hogg can really run in because they know Luke will chip in with 20 overs or so.
“It shows our strength that we can leave out players like Moore and Smith. The squad is stronger this year, and that is great for competition. Luke will be a great player for the squad in years to come.
“He has always been a talented batsmen, and the most important thing with a talented batsman is to formulate a game-plan which suits your strengths and weaknesses. He is busy doing that at the moment.
“He plays the ball late, he plays with soft hands. He is batting at the top of the order now, and those two things are important for someone batting there. He bowls as well, and that adds another dimension to his game. He has picked up four wickets here and seven in the last match of last season. That will give him confidence.”
Captain Glen Chapple claimed the other two Worcestershire wickets to fall as the Pears slipped from 315-6 by losing their last four wickets for 19 runs in 31 balls during the early stages of an eventful evening session after rain prevented any play between lunch and tea.
Chapple joined Wayne White and Simon Kerrigan in taking two wickets, while Procter added the wickets of Gareth Andrew for 52 and tail-ender David Lucas to his first day scalps of Michael Johnson and Neil Pinner.
Andrew and visiting captain Daryl Mitchell, who made a watchful 74 off 169 balls having battled a stomach bug during day one, helped to move their score beyond 300 with an innings-best partnership of 96 inside 34 overs for the eighth wicket.
Andrew posted his fifty off 96 balls, including a six over mid-wicket off left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan during the morning session.
Prince reviews day two and speaks of his happiness at being back at Lancs
There were two rain delays during the day - one during the morning which did not cause any loss of overs and then the second throughout the afternoon. Bad light also brought an end to play two overs early.
When play resumed at 4.30pm, it did so under floodlights for the first time in Championship cricket at this venue. And it seemed to coincide with more help for the bowlers through the air and off the pitch.
Mitchell was caught behind off Chapple in the 127th over before Andrew slashed a Procter delivery to a tumbling White at deep cover point in the 130th.
Andrew’s dismissal was the first of three wickets to fall in consecutive overs as Chapple then bowled Chris Russell for a duck in the 131st and Procter had David Lucas caught behind to wrap up the innings in the next.
Both sides missed out on first-innings bonus points during Worcestershire’s innings. Lancashire picked up two of the three bowling points on offer and the visitors two of five for batting.
Prince added: “It has been a frustrating day because we lost quite a few overs. But we finished strongly. If we can get a good foundation, it may give us the chance to crack on at some stage in the innings. It doesn’t seem easy to score quickly. It is a fairly slowish pitch, so if you bowl straight and a good length it is difficult to score quickly.”
Photos above (c) Simon Pendrigh
1. A floodlit Emirates Old Trafford at 5.30pm this afternoon
2 & 3. Glen Chapple makes the breakthrough with the wicket of Daryl Mitchell
4 & 5. Wayne White takes a great catch in the deep to dismiss Gareth Andrew
6. Earlier Andrew had hit out in making a half century
7. Luke Procter in bowling and batting action this afternoon