Half-centuries for Glen Chapple and Tom Smith underpinned an excellent opening day for Lancashire against Hampshire at Liverpool today.
The title-chasing Red Rose, who have now lost all eight tosses at home in the LV= County Championship, posted a commanding 337-7 from 89 overs during an entertaining day’s play.
The three batting points gained, which should be added to when play resumes in the morning, are crucial as they look to close the gap on Durham and Warwickshire at the top of the table.
Captain Chapple finished a day curtailed by bad light on 76 not out, including nine fours and a six, while Smith hit 63.
“The pitch is quite good, we have had a couple of partnerships, and we have come out in a pretty decent position,” said Chapple, who counter-attacked superbly in posting his highest score since May of 2009.
“I know it has been a while, I have been due some runs. I have really wanted to score reasonably heavy with the bat for a while now, and felt like I owed the team in that respect.”
With regards to another lost toss, he said: “We haven’t been that bothered about winning the toss most of the time. We have done really well here this season, and we haven’t been too bothered either way.
“There are occasions when you desperately want to win the toss, but we have not had one of those here this season.”
Chapple, who has picked Simon Kerrigan as a second spinner, admitted that the Red Rose were frustrated at the manner of a number of their dismissals.
Smith top-edged a pull to long-leg off Sean Ervine after tea, while the impressive medium pacer also forced Steven Croft to chop on the ball after Paul Horton had been strangled down the leg-side during the afternoon session.
Karl Brown was also the victim of a run out, failing to get back as he aborted a second run to long-leg during the morning session.
Ervine, the Zimbabwean Kolpak player, was the visiting side’s best bowler with 3-66. He bowled with hostility after lunch, reducing Lancashire from 98-2 to 98-4 in the 37th over.
But Lancashire, who were 125-5 shortly afterwards, recovered well on a ground where wickets have fallen cheaply in the first innings regularly this summer.
Left-arm pace bowler Chris Wood conceded 25 runs in his first two overs after tea as Smith took two fours off his first, and Chapple hit two fours and a hooked six in his second.
Smith reached his milestone off 83 balls and Chapple for the first time this season in any form of the game off 63.
Horton and Luke Procter, who batted patiently for 45, shared 57 runs for the third wicket before Smith and Cross added 58 for the sixth, Smith and Chapple 55 for the seventh before Chapple and Hogg combined for their unbroken 99 partnership inside 19 overs for the eighth.
Hogg added to Hampshire’s frustrations as the day went on with some lusty hitting, and will resume tomorrow on 47 not out off 57 balls.
Meanwhile, second place Warwickshire closed their day on 235-3 from 82.5 overs against Nottinghamshire at Edgbaston.
And, on the title race, Chapple added: “I try not to think about the position we are in. We are just playing the situation we are in at the moment in the game.
“It is all we can do. To be honest, it is much worse watching than being out in the middle. We are desperate to win the Championship. We are never going to stop trying, but that is all we can do.”
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
Article (c) Lancashire County Cricket Club