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News - 22nd March 2012

Croft enjoys good workout

Croft enjoys good workout

Stand-in captain Steven Croft, fresh from a second innings half-century as an opening batsman, hailed "a really good workout" after Lancashire's two-day friendly against the MCC Young Cricketers finished in a draw at Abu Dhabi today.

After declaring overnight on 391-9 in their first innings, the YC's were bowled out for 217 on the stroke of tea, Naqaash Tahir and Simon Kerrigan taking three wickets apiece on a flat pitch.

Ireland international wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter led the way for the YC's with 52 off 105 balls to hold up a Lancashire charge during the early stages of the afternoon session.

Instead of enforcing the follow-on, the Red Rose hierarchy opted for more batting practice. So, on the back of a first innings duck, Croft faced the new ball and made amends with 52 off 75 balls.

Opening partner Andrea Agathangelou also added 32, including two towering sixes, and Karl Brown finished not out on 20 in a score of 128-3 from 31 overs.

Croft, leading the side instead of the rested Glen Chapple, said: "It felt really good. We had a really good workout, all the lads did. All the bowlers got around ten overs and all the batsmen around 30 minutes at the crease. Personally, I felt really good too.

"It felt a bit strange getting the grass under the spikes again after so long, but I was really impressed with how we did for our first run out.

"It was also good to have a look at Naqaash, who's a really skilful bowler. He bowled really well - as did the spinners. It should put us in good stead for the week ahead."

MCC openers Tom Lewis and Scott McKechnie shared an opening stand of 59 inside 15 overs this morning before the latter was caught and bowled by Naqaash, who also trapped Adam Hose lbw four overs later, leaving the score at 69-2.

Jordan Clark's medium pace accounted for captain Lewis, who made a determined 41, in the 20th over, Kerrigan holding onto a sharp chance at mid-wicket. And wickets were beginning to tumble.

The MCC side were five down before lunch, with Kerrigan striking twice.

He had James Southgate and Henry Nicholls lbw and caught at backward square leg by Kyle Hogg respectively, the batting side still eleven runs short of three figures in the 26th over.

Poynter, who played a couple of four-day Intercontinental Cup matches for Ireland last September, then underpinned a spell of resistance, with him sharing a sixth wicket stand of 75 with Billy Root.

Root, brother of Joe, hit 34 before he fell in the 49th over - bowled by Oliver Newby - leaving the score at 174-6.

He was the first of five wickets to fall in the space of ten overs to wrap up the innings. Dan Hampton was adjudged lbw to Kerrigan before Jordan Rollings and Adam Dobb succumbed to Keedy - lbw and bowled respectively.

In between the seventh and eighth wickets, pugnacious Poynter brought up a much deserved half-century off 86 balls, including eight fours. His stay at the crease was ended when Naqaash had him caught behind by Gareth Cross in the 59th over.

Croft and Agathangelou then made the most of their time at the crease before Hose and Rollings struck three times between them. Rollings even bowled Croft and had Cross caught behind by Poynter in the space of two balls in the 23rd over.

Lancashire's next outing comes at Dubai tomorrow, where they face a Fly Emirates XI in the quarter-final of the five-team Emirates Airline T20 competition.

If Lancashire win their opening match, they will face Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Shaun Tait in the MCC side.

And Croft added: "Tomorrow should be a fun day. There's some really good players in there. The MCC have a really strong side out, and I don't think the Emirates side will be any mugs either.

"They've got plenty of spinners, and they'll be able to whack it. We'll have to come out hard right from the off."

Graham Hardcastle
Photo & Article (c) Lancashire CCC


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