If there was ever a day that proves true the old adage that catches win matches, then this was it as Lancashire secured the Yorkshire Bank 40 double over Surrey at Guildford with an entertaining five-wicket win.
Stephen Moore and Simon Katich took two one-handed stunners that will surely be in the running for the Champagne Moment award come the Player of the Year bash at the end of the season, while Moore also affected a crucial run out.
Surrey, having been invited to bat first by Glen Chapple, were on course from a total in excess of 300 when Steven Davies and Jason Roy flew out of the blocks and added 101 runs in just 12 overs on the postage stamp of a ground at Woodbridge Road. Katich admitted that kind of target “would have been a tough ask”.
But the hosts ended up posting only 264-8 having slipped to 198-7 in the 32nd over of their chase.
While Kyle Hogg and Jordan Clark took two wickets apiece, left-arm spinner Stephen Parry’s spell of 1-34 from eight overs was key in building pressure through the middle of the innings. But Lancashire’s fielding really stood out.
Ashwell Prince then top-scored with 76 off 73 balls from the top of the order as he and Stephen Moore shared 85 inside the first 13 overs of their pursuit.
However, Lancashire also lost wickets to bring the game back in the balance. With ten overs left, they needed 84 with six wickets in hand and with nine left Surrey were arguably favourites with 76 needed and five wickets left.
But thankfully Katich intervened in some style to finish with 57 not out off 37 balls in partnership with wicketkeeper Gareth Cross, whose contribution of 24 unbeaten off 15 balls should not be underestimated.
They added an unbroken 76 in just 6.3 overs for the sixth wicket as the win was secured with 15 balls to spare.
Moore took his catch at deep mid-wicket to get rid of Davies and Katich at cover to get of Vikram Solanki. And Moore also affected the crucial run out of Australian legend Ricky Ponting from mid-wicket to leave Surrey three down.
“Stephen’s catch was outstanding because it looked like it was going over his head,” said Katich, who joked that his own was the better catch. In all seriousness, he described his as a “fluke”.
“But he managed to pluck it out one-handed when he was almost on the ropes. To keep his balance was a great effort.
“He got us going with that catch, and run outs change the course of games. Ricky was obviously a crucial wicket, but it also got us on a bit of a roll.
“The way we bowled and fielded to restrict them to 260-odd (was superb) because at one stage they looked like getting 300 plus. That would have been a tough ask. Our fielding was right on the money. We showed outstanding character.”
Lancashire were particularly well placed at 140-2 in the 22nd over of their reply, but they lost three wickets for 12 runs to change the outlook.
Steven Croft was caught behind off Jade Dernbach before Azhar Mahmood had Prince caught at mid-off and bowled Karl Brown, leaving the score at 152-4 in the 25th.
That forced Lancashire to rebuild, but Katich hit five fours off Zander de Bruyn in the 34th over to take the equation from 58 off seven to 38 off six.
Earlier, Lancashire were staring down the barrel when Davies, in particular, was firing against the new ball. He hit a 26-ball half-century.
But Parry backed up his five-wicket haul in the reverse fixture at Emirates Old Trafford last month. The 27-year-old picked up the wicket of the dangerous Mahmood and superbly built the pressure on the home batsmen.
Photo: Simon Katich hits the winning runs at Guildford (c) PA Images