Ashwell Prince says Lancashire are in a good position to end their ten year search for silverware this season as he prepares to complete his two month spell as the club's overseas player later this week.
The South African batsman has been a major player in the county’s fine start to the campaign, which has seen them claim two County Championship wins from their first three matches.That statistic will almost certainly read two wins from four matches at approximately 5.30pm tomorrow because the current LV Division One fixture against Somerset is heading for a draw.
With over 100 overs lost on the first two days, a positive result is now highly unlikely because Somerset only lead by 15 having reached 301-7 after 92 overs in reply to Lancashire’s first innings 286.
See the highlights tomorrow on www.Lancs.TV
Marcus Trescothick and Arul Suppiah made sure day three was just about Somerset’s thanks to an opening partnership of 131. Trescothick led the way with 95 off 182 balls, and Suppiah recorded 47 before he was bowled by Oliver Newby with just over an hour left of the afternoon session.
James Hildreth chipped in with 60 off 89 balls, but the Red Rose bowlers fought back hard by taking four wickets in the last 14 overs of the day. Home captain Glen Chapple returned impressive figures of 2-27 from 19, while Newby and Francois du Plessis claimed two each.
Lancashire’s last piece of top flight silverware – they did win the LV Division Two title in 2005 - was the Sunday (now Pro40)League in 1999.
But Prince said: “I would like to think that we can win at least one competition. The most important thing is the team spirit. At the moment you feel like you can go out and win every time. There have been performances from everybody in the team. That has been the standout thing.”
The 32 year-old left-hander, who will be replaced by Indian VVS Laxman after the trip to Durham on Thursday, has contributed 472 runs from five first-class matches for the county, including the Somerset fixture, while he has scored 349 runs in both forms of one-day cricket.
“It’s been very enjoyable, but the most important thing is that the team is doing well. I feel that I have made a contribution,” he continued. “Before I played my first game I was asked what I would like to do. My answer to that question was ‘leave the team with good momentum’.”
Somerset looked as if they could chase an unlikely victory tomorrow whilst Trescothick and Malaysia-born Suppiah, who was dropped three times, were at the crease, but now it looks unlikely. They will need some lusty hitting from Alfonso Thomas and Ben Phillips, amongst others, tomorrow morning.
Newby ripped out Suppiah’s off-stump in the 47th over of the Somerset innings. It was the first of two wickets for Newby in consecutive overs because Justin Langer edged behind for two in the pace bowler’s next.
Trescothick had cracked Newby for three boundaries in one over earlier in the day. The 33 year-old found the fence 14 times, but fell trying to find it again off Gary Keedy. He took two steps down the wicket only to be stumped by Luke Sutton off the left-arm spinner in the second over after the tea break to leave the score at 179-3.
Hildreth and Craig Kieswetter (45) then notched 71 in 16 overs for the fourth wicket before leg-spinner du Plessis bowled the former and Peter Trego in successive overs to leave the visitors at 262-5 in the 80th over. And Chapple became the third bowler of the day to pick up wickets in successive overs by removing Zander de Bruyn and Kieswetter.
“We knew that when we batted, if you lose a wicket after a partnership, you could lose two or three wickets quite quickly,” continued Prince. “It’s a good pitch for batting, but there is something in it for the bowlers.
“It’s going to be tough (for either side to win) with one day left having lost a lot of overs. I think they would have liked to be only five down tonight, push on in the morning to put us under pressure.”
Lancashire’s batting effort only lasted for two overs this morning with seamer David Stiff having Newby caught behind by Kieswetter for 15 to finish with 4-72 from 20 overs.
2nd day report (1st day - no play, rain)
Photos: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd