Glen Chapple gave Lancashire a real boost with a late double strike against Essex on the opening day of their match at Old Trafford.
But afterwards the Lancashire skipper was full of praise for left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan after another impressive LV= County Championship display.
Kerrigan, the 21 year-old in his debut season in first team cricket, claimed the wickets of openers Billy Godleman and Jaik Mickleburgh as the visitors reached 251-6 from 96 overs on a hard fought first day.
While Kerrigan finished with 2-71 from 33 overs, Dutch international all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate anchored the visiting effort with 85 off 123 balls.
It had looked like ten Dosechate’s effort would go a long way to giving the Chelmsford outfit the edge, but Chapple trapped him and James Foster lbw in the final eleven overs to change the complexion of the day.
“We bowled and fielded really well,” said the skipper, who finished with 2-41 from 18. “We realised quite early in the first session it was a really easy-paced pitch. There was no lateral movement, so we have bowled in good areas and fielded well. We have come out of the day really pleased.”
After Chapple had won the toss and elected to bowl first on a greenish-looking track, Essex made a solid start thanks to Godleman and Mickleburgh, who shared a solid 73.
Kerrigan had left-handed Godleman caught at mid-wicket by Stephen Moore in the 26th over - and trapped right-handed Mickleburgh lbw two overs into the afternoon session to leave the score at 86-2 in the 32nd.
“Every time he has bowled he has bowled really well,” said Chapple of Kerrigan, who has now taken 12 wickets this season. “We asked a lot of him today, and he came up with the goods.
“He didn’t waver while bowling long spells, and showed great tactical awareness through the day. For a young lad, he is on the money with his tactics and his self belief. He has a lot of natural talent and is very mature for his age.”
Mark Pettini was the third to go, well caught low down to his left by Mark Chilton in the gully off Kyle Hogg, allowing Matthew Walker and ten Doeschate to come together with the score at 130-3 in the 52nd.
They shared 66 in 17 overs for the fourth wicket before Walker chopped on to Sajid Mahmood, trying to cut a ball too close to his body, for 42.
Foster was trapped lbw by Chapple in the 85th, who then completed the wicket-taking for the day when he got ten Doeschate the same way with an out-swinger in the 91st.
Chapple continued: “You have to be fully committed on a pitch like that, and the boys had a good attitude today. We knew what a realistic target was for the day. I think we achieved slightly better than we thought we might.”
He added: “We quickly realised that it didn't have the pace we would have hoped for. At the end of the day, we get on and try to do our job as well as we can.
“If we score more runs than them in the first dig we can apply pressure that way. Wickets don't always deteriorate at Old Trafford, that's one comfort when you stick a side in. We try to restrict them to as low a score as we can.
“You're never sure what a pitch is going to do, you've just got to make your best guess. But we're quite happy with the position we're in at the moment.”
Ravi Bopara will come into the Essex side to replace Grant Flower at the start of Lancashire's reply. The all-rounder spent the day with England’s victorious World Twenty20 squad at Downing Street, but Flower's arrival at the crease today means that Bopara cannot come in to the Essex side now until Lancashire start their first innings.
Graham Hardcastle at Old Trafford
Photo: Simon Pendrigh, Peakpix Digital Images
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd