The top level of the County Championship is a tough environment in which to learn your cricket
This is a truth generally acknowledged in the domestic game and those inclined to doubt its veracity would have been well advised to watch Lancashire and Somerset battle for ascendancy on the first day of their LV=Division One match at Aigburth.
By the close Somerset were on top, having made good use of winning the toss to reduce Lancashire to 129 for five on a day when heavy afternoon showers were principally responsible for lopping 44 overs off the day's allotment of overs.
Leading the way for Marcus Trescothick's side was Peter Trego, who took four for 34 in 18.2 overs. Carrying Lancashire's banner was Ashwell Prince, who passed fifty for the eighth time in Championship cricket this season and had made 51 off 94 balls when he edged Trego to Craig Kieswetter four overs before the eventual close.
That dismissal completed a poor spell for Glen Chapple's side who lost three wickets in 35 balls to decline from a prosperous 107 for two to a financially embarrassed 122 for five before Andrea Agathangelou began his championship career by simply surviving until close of play. He and Gareth Cross, who is unbeaten on seven, will hope to build a respectable first innings total on a wicket where run-scoring has rarely looked particularly easy.
"It's a pitch on which you have to work hard," said Brown, when he reviewed the day. "But if you get two people in you can score runs. I enjoyed the battle out there, getting stuck in was good fun. Andrea is a good player and he wil be confident he can score runs tomorrow."
Brown had illustrated his point about this Aigburth wicket being one on which vigilant batsmen could prosper by adding 79 for the fourth wicket with Prince either side of the afternoon downpours.
The Boltonian had helped Prince hold the innings together after Trego had claimed the wickets of both Stephen Moore, caught at slip by Marcus Trescothick for two, and Paul Horton, lbw on the front foot for 12. The Somerset seamer's ten-over opening spell cost just 12 runs and seized the initiative for his side.
However, Brown batted beautifully to make 39 off 98 balls, stroking a series of signature cover drives as Lancashire went into lunch on 61 for two. Nine overs in the afternoon session yielded a further 30 runs before the rain arrived in billowing torrents to rule out any chance of play for 155 minutes.
On the resumption Trego was immediately recalled to the attack and he uprooted Brown's off stump six overs later. Having made only seven, Steven Croft edged Alfonso Thomas to the safe hands of Trescothick and Prince fell to the next ball from Trego, who bowled admirably throughout his two spells.
"Trego got a bit of swing and if that continues it will really help our bowlers because Glen Chaple and Kyle Hogg swing it more than most," said Brown. "We are in a tough position in the league and we are going to have to fight our way out of it. We have to push on, get a good total and put them under pressure."
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh