Croft, Cross centuries in draw

Gareth Cross and Steven Croft both scored their first centuries in the LV= County Championship this season as Lancashire batted through today’s final day of their clash with Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl for a draw.

Wicketkeeper Cross has enjoyed an encouraging start to the season with a couple of valuable contributions in wins over Glamorgan and Essex recently, and his 100 off 173 balls with 12 fours and two sixes was the third of his Championship career.

When the players shook hands on an eight-point apiece draw, Lancashire were 373-6 with Croft unbeaten on 101 not out from 147 balls. His sixth career Championship hundred included eleven fours and a six.

Lancashire advanced their score from 63-3 at the start of play when all three results were still possible. By the latter stages of the afternoon session, it became obvious that the draw was the only possibility.

Coach Peter Moores pointed to the poor weather as one reason why a positive result could not be gained - 88 overs were lost during the first two days.

He also said the pitch was too batsman friendly for them to take any risks at all with regards to a declaration during the afternoon to give themselves in the region of 40 overs to chase a third win of the season.

In the end, the eight points they picked up from their fifth match moved them up to joint second in the Division Two table on 62 points alongside Essex. The Red Rose's sixth clash is against Gloucestershire at Liverpool on Wednesday.

"With the way the pitch was, you'd fancy chasing 250 in 40 on that like we saw in the one-day game," said Moores.

"They'd have been thinking all the way through 'if we just can nick them out, we'll have a go'. We knew that as well.

"We'd have loved to have had a crack at them, but it wasn't the sort of pitch on which you were going to bowl a side out in 40 overs.

"They would have nothing to lose because the pitch is good enough that if they had lost two or three wickets quickly, they could have blocked it out.

"The only opportunity we probably had was on Saturday when Glen got the wickets. If we could have whipped through them then and got a hundred lead, then we could have given ourselves a realistic timeframe to push for the win. That didn't happen.

"On the positive side, for Gareth Cross to get some time middle and Steven Croft to get some runs under his belt was great."

Karl Brown and first-innings centurion Andrea Agathangelou started the day, and they advanced their fourth-wicket stand to 99 before the latter fell for 49 to Sean Ervine, caught at point.

Brown also continued his good form this summer with 58 off 139 balls - his third fifty in the Championship this season - before being caught behind off Ervine. Cross and Croft added 161 for the sixth wicket inside 44 overs.

All three of the sixes they hit went down the ground off the spin bowling of either Liam Dawson or Danny Briggs.

Lancashire's decision not to declare was no real surprise given that Hampshire are fellow contenders for a return to Division One. Had Hampshire picked up their second win, they would have jumped over the Red Rose in the table.

Cross now has three hundreds to his name in the Championship. His first came against the same opponents here in 2010.

Following Cross's departure to James Vince, the evening session saw Hampshire employ part-time bowlers Michael Carberry and Jimmy Adams as the contest drifted.

Carberry even bowled one over of impersonations of other bowlers. Glen Chapple was given an outing, as was umpire Martin Saggers, Alex Tudor, Dominic Cork and team-mates David Balcombe and Hamza Riazuddin.

The real Chapple needs one more wicket for 900 in his first-class career against Gloucestershire this week.

Graham Hardcastle
Photos (c) Adam Davey/Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

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