Lancashire fast bowler Oliver Newby described their drawn two-day friendly against Kent at Beckenham as just what we needed.
Newby, 26, has made a successful return to action following the cruciate knee ligament he suffered last May, getting through 16 overs over two innings, taking one wicket and going for 57 runs.
The Red Rose county reached 204-6 from 61 overs of their second innings after being set a target of 253 in two sessions to win.
Newby and company have not been on a pre season tour this year following trips to South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and the Caribbean in previous winters, instead using the facilities in the balmy North West.
He said: “We’ve had some great weather at Old Trafford over the past week or so, but nothing beats the feel of being outside and playing competitive cricket with no nets around us.
“We’ve had great weather to be outdoors. The only thing that makes a county wary about preparing here is the weather.
“It’s been 16 or 17 degrees – and, if you can get that every March, I don’t think counties would go away because you’ve got the facilities at your home ground. With not going away on a tour, coming down here is just what we needed.”
Kent batted for 25 overs in their second innings this morning, reaching 82-2 thanks in the main to 40 from all-rounder Darren Stevens.
Stevens and Sam Northeast, who opened the innings, set off at a rate close to five runs an over, but tight spells from Newby, Kyle Hogg and Tom Smith helped to drag things back nicely on a slow and low track.
Newby admitted to being apprehensive before the start of this match about his comeback, but a five-over burst that cost him only seven runs has given him plenty of confidence.
He had Northeast superbly caught at point by stand-in skipper Steven Croft, who later pouched another diving effort at cover to get rid of Stevens off the bowling of Smith.
“Bowling in the nets and indoors is a totally different atmosphere to bowling outside, and I was a bit nervous because this is the first game I have played in ten months,” said Newby.
“I’ve been bowling really well in the nets, so I just wanted to emulate that as best I could out there. The wicket was a bonus. It came out really well. It’s a slow pitch, but I tried to hit my lengths. There’s not a lot of margin for error, which is good for the bowlers in a pre season friendly.”
When Lancashire batted for a second time, Paul Horton was the top-scorer with 47. He took advantage of a couple of nicks and flicks to the boundary before settling in well.
Smith had made his way to 29 when he was caught at point off the bowling of Simon Cook. When Horton followed, caught and bowled by young off-spinner Adam Riley, Lancs were 95-2 in the 27th.
Riley grabbed his second when he had Mark Chilton (21) stumped three overs later.
Gareth Cross was one of five Lancastrians to fall in the twenties, and he was caught behind by Geraint Jones off the pace bowling of Robbie Joseph to leave the score at 134-4 early in the evening session.
Croft fell for the same score, edging Alex Blake to Rob Key at slip – 143-5 in the 41st – and Mahmood followed nine overs later when he was bowled to give Riley his third victim.
Karl Brown can take plenty of heart from his performance, adding a second innings 34 not out to his 35 in the first. Hogg also finished 16 not out.
1st day Report
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh