Simon Katich's first hundred in Lancashire colours has put his side in a healthy position at the halfway stage of their ongoing LV= County Championship match against Essex at Chelmsford.
The former Australian Test player scored his 55th century in all first-class cricket as the Red Rose replied to 273 with 266-7 from 80.2 overs, with bad light prompting the umpires to call close of play 5.4 overs early.
Katich will resume in the morning on 120 not out off 185 balls, including 14 fours.
He shared significant partnerships of 110 inside 33 overs with Ashwell Prince and an unbroken 58 inside 17 with Kyle Hogg, who posted a useful 17 not out.
This was Katich’s fifth score above 65 in the Championship this season, but he had not been able to convert the previous four into centuries. He had already admitted his frustration at this statistic earlier in the week, saying “it has bugged me big”.
But reflecting on the day’s play, coach Peter Moores hailed his prolific overseas player. He said: “There’s not many more people hungrier to score runs than Simon.
“He’ll be over the moon to get there, especially at what was such a key time. Credit to Essex because they bowled well, but it’s not over yet. Let’s hope he can carry it on and make it into a big one.”
While both camps accept that Lancashire hold the initiative in the fixture, one thing that will frustrate the visitors is that they could have been well on their way to victory had they not lost five wickets for 57 either side of tea.
Katich and Prince were progressing serenely in conditions which have provided encouragement for both batsmen and bowlers, with Prince only offering one tough chance to Ryan ten Doeschate at gully early in his innings.
Openers Luke Procter and debutant Luis Reece (24) were trapped lbw by David Masters and caught at second slip off Graham Napier respectively to leave the score at 41-2 after 12 overs. But the left-handed former Test duo advanced the score at 151-2 in the 45th over.
However, South African Prince’s dismissal was the first of three to fall for 14 runs inside seven overs as Napier bowled Andrea Agathangelou and had Steven Croft caught behind pulling to leave the score at 165-5 after 51.
Gareth Cross and Wayne White then both mistimed left-arm seamer Reece Topley to Sajid Mahmood at mid-off, and Lancashire were 208-7 in the 64th over after tea. Katich then brought up his ton off 166 balls in his alliance with Hogg.
Earlier, Glen Chapple wrapped up the Essex first innings with the last two wickets to fall after they started the day on 268-8. He had Mahmood caught at second slip by Agathangelou and bowled Topley to finish with 3-47 from 19.2 overs.
Moores added: “It’s been a well fought day for both sides. Simon played beautifully and had a great partnership with Ashwell. I think there’s a real key partnership starting to build between Simon and Kyle Hogg. It’s a really good game of cricket.”
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh