Simon Katich put Lancashire in a dominant position at the halfway stage of their LV= County Championship match against Worcestershire at New Road today with a magnificent unbeaten hundred scored exclusively in the afternoon session.
The left-handed Australian overseas star continued his excellent form this summer with his fourth hundred, which also saw him pass 1,000 competition runs as the Division Two leaders replied to the hosts‘ 287 all out with 271-5 from 66 overs.
There were only eight balls possible after tea due to rain and bad light, and play was abandoned for the day shortly before 6pm. Katich will resume tomorrow morning on 104 off 89 balls with Luke Procter for company on three not out.
Katich gave himself a belated 38th birthday present, which he celebrated on Wednesday, by reaching three figures off 86 balls with 14 fours and four sixes just before tea having only arrived at the crease during the first over after lunch.
It even took the Western Australian 15 balls to get off the mark, and he scored his second fifty off only 31 balls. Funnily enough, he actually scored eight of his fours and two of his sixes in his first fifty.
He hit all of his maximums over the leg-side, including two off medium pacer Joe Leach as the 59th over went for 24. In all, 158 runs came in 31.4 overs during the afternoon session at a little over five runs per over.
“We’re really happy to only be 16 runs behind. Hopefully five more partnerships can get us a decent lead and we can put them under some pressure,” said Katich, whose good work was supplemented by half-centuries for Luis Reece and Ashwell Prince.
“The boys up top laid a great foundation. The partnership with Ash, we started to get a bit of momentum, and it was nice to carry it on. It was that sort of wicket where you need to give yourself time to get in. Once that ball got older, it certainly made it a bit easier for batting.
“I am just trying to help us win games of cricket, that’s the main thing. I thought the bowlers did a great job yesterday keeping them to 280. Today it was about building a big total. We’ve still got a fair bit of work to do, but hopefully we can get a big lead.
“A new ball’s not far away, and that’s going to be a critical period. I thought Reecey and Horts did a great job getting us through the period early on. The boys kicked on.”
Lancashire lost two wickets in the morning session and three in the afternoon, including Reece for a well made 59 in the first over after lunch and Andrea Agathangelou in the last before tea. Reece has now scored his first three fifties in Championship cricket in his last three innings.
Katich shared 92 inside 20 overs for the fourth wicket with Prince, who also added 52, and 65 inside 12 for the fifth with Agathangelou, who only scored 14 of them.
Prince and Katich reached their fifties off successive deliveries, with the imperious Aussie getting his with a second six to take the Red Rose within a run of 200.
Katich is now on course for his most prolific Championship season ever in county cricket, and he also spoke about his feat of scoring a hundred in a session and answered the question of whether he had done it before.
“Someone asked me that at tea-time. I’ve done it once in an extended session when I scored my 300 for New South Wales, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it in a normal session of two hours,” he said.
“I think I started going at a reasonable clip from 20 or 30 onwards. I started to feel good and thought ‘I’m going to keep backing myself’. I’ve felt pretty good all season, I’ve felt hungry.”
After nightwatchman Glen Chapple fell caught behind down the leg-side to Graeme Cessford in the first over of the day, Reece and Paul Horton (30) shared 77 inside 22 overs for the second wicket before the latter caught at long-leg sweeping at off-spinner Moeen Ali.
Reece was then caught at first slip off Richardson early in the afternoon to leave the score at 111-3.
Prince was the fourth wicket to fall when he chipped Cessford to short cover with 203 on the board in the 54th over before Agathangelou was trapped lbw by Richardson two balls before tea. Bad light and then arrived arrived shortly after the beginning of the evening session.
Photo (c) Simon Penndrigh