Lancashire drew their LV= County Championship match against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl today.
Tom Smith’s 128 off 306 balls, the highest score of his first-class career, was something encouraging to note on a leisurely day on the South Coast, as was Gareth Cross’ maiden hundred in county cricket.
Smith completed a second wicket partnership of 134 with Mark Chilton (47) before sharing a fifth wicket stand of 65 with Cross, playing his first four-day match for four years.
Cross, particularly impressive using his feet to the spin of Danny Briggs, later employed the reverse sweep-cum-pull as he closed in on three figures.
With time of the essence seen as the game was going nowhere - Lancs were always going to declare as close to 4.50pm as possible – Cross became more inventive.
The 26 year-old from Bury reached three figures off 134 balls, including 16 boundaries, with the last ball of the match as Glen Chapple declared on 351-6 from 127 overs.
Smith said: “It would have been nice to come out with a win, but coming out with a solid draw was good, especially after Tuesday’s disappointment (FPT20 defeat at Essex).”
On his own performance, Smith continued: “After getting 95 here last year, it was good to go that bit further and get a hundred, especially opening the batting.
“I didn’t have a great start to the season opening the batting, but when I went down the order it went well. But, unfortunately, Stephen (Moore) had a pretty bad injury and Mooresy asked me whether I want to go back up top. It’s paid off.”
Lancashire, courtesy of Somerset’s victory over Nottinghamshire on Saturday, have slipped down to fourth place in the Division One table.
Taking seven points from this fixture, the Red Rose county are now ten points behind third placed Somerset, 22 behind second placed Notts and 23 behind leaders Yorkshire.
Somerset, Notts and Lancs all have a game in hand on Yorkshire. The White Rose county host Notts at Headingley this week.
The only realistic way for a result to have been gained by Lancashire today would have been to contrive one. Smith said: “There were one of two conversations exchanged.”
In the end nothing happened, with Smith continuing: “We were in a position last night (Saturday) where we’d rather not lose too many wickets. Unfortunately, we didn’t press on as well as we could. We didn’t score at a great rate (on day three), and keeping wickets in hand was our main goal.”
He and Chilton continued their 61 over alliance this morning before the latter edged David Balcombe behind to Michael Bates during the 14th over of the day to leave the score at 142-2.
Smith reached three figures for the second time this season - he scored 108 against Yorkshire at Headingley whilst batting at No.6 – off 229 balls with ten fours and two maximums.
He earned himself the congratulations of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, but lost the West Indian as his partner at the crease shortly afterwards when his fellow left hander popped up a catch off Briggs to Michael Lumb at short leg.
Sean Ervine, bowling some very gentle leg spin, was dispatched for two boundaries before lunch by Steven Croft.
But Croft fell in identical fashion to Chanderpaul, although his shot was a little more forceful, to leave Lancs 212-4.
Smith and Cross united for 16 overs before Smith top edged an attempted slog sweep off Briggs to Jimmy Adams running back from mid wicket
Luke Sutton followed after tea, caught on the deep square leg boundary by Balcombe off the occasional off spin of Michael Carberry, for two.
Smith said that the tea break was another opportunity for Lancs to discuss the possibility of a late dart at the victory with a lead of 210.
He said: “At the back end of the day we wondered whether there was a sniff of a chance of bowling them out in 30-odd overs, but we decided that it was almost impossible. We decided to bat on and press for some results in the next few games.”
And the only question that was left to be answered was whether or Cross could bring up his hundred. He managed it with a single off Carberry before the players shook hands.
Smith added: “It was great to see Crossy get his first hundred for the club. Hopefully there’s many more to come".
Day 1 I Day 2 I Day 3 I Paul Edwards' Rose Bowl view
Graham Hardcastle at the Rose Bowl
Photo: Simon Pendrigh, Peakpix Digital Images
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd