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Jon Culley at Aigburth
May 18, 2011
Lancashire 56 for 1 v Yorkshire 141
Given the anxiety surrounding the future of Old Trafford as aggrieved neighbour Albert Gubay continues on his mission to scupper Lancashire's critical redevelopment plans, there is the potential for this season to be one of considerable irony if what had looked like a team in transition can maintain its early-season form.
The Court of Appeal's decision to give Gubay's Derwent Holdings another crack at forcing a judicial review into Lancashire's plans imposes another delay before work can properly begin on the £32 million project, jeopardising their hopes of being ready for the 2013 Ashes. The consequences for their financial future of not being ready do not bear thinking about, according to the county, in which case Lancashire's temporary exile from their traditional headquarters -caused by the rotation of the square - might in a worst case scenario become permanent.
And while club grounds can be idyllic, particularly when the sun shines, they are not suited to the demands of modern professional cricket. Lancashire quite like the idea of visitors to Aigburth suffering a degree of culture shock when the confront the Victorian pavilion but even they might tire of it as a long-term home.
On this occasion, moreover, it felt far from idyllic as a chill wind whipped across the Mersey estuary, blowing away some early morning rain but obliging spectators to swath themselves with several layers even when the clouds parted and the sun peeped through.
Not that the Lancashire players noticed, you would imagine. The 252nd Roses match - the first on this ground - is going their way so far after Yorkshire subsided to 141 all out.
Conditions favoured the bowlers but it was a pretty miserable effort from the white rose nonetheless, although in the absence of Anthony McGrath, Gerard Brophy, Richard Pyrah and Tim Bresnan, all injured, as well as Ajmal Shahzad and Jonny Bairstow, away with England Lions, there were mitigating circumstances.
Indeed, they are so stretched that they have had to ask Simon Guy, who they released in 2009 and is playing currently for Marske in the North Yorks-South Durham League, to come back as emergency wicketkeeper. Guy, 32, last played a first-class match in July, 2007, although he is familiar with most of the faces he encountered on his return. Five of his Yorkshire team-mates - as well as four on the Lancashire side - played in the Second XI Trophy final at Scarborough in 2009 that marked his final Yorkshire appearance.
Even so, Yorkshire should have done rather better, having been 95 for 2. The pitch was slow and difficult to score runs on and with the ball swinging for Jimmy Anderson and Glen Chapple, the loss of only two wickets in the first 48 overs was a good effort.
But it was at that point that Joe Sayers was out to a brilliant, diving catch by Steven Croft at point, rewarding Anderson with his only wicket when he probably deserved more for a penetrating couple of spells.
Sayers is no dasher in anyone's book, sometimes taking the virtues of caution a little too far but his defiance of temptation was exactly what was called for this time. With the ball seaming and swinging, beating the bat often and at times keeping disconcertingly low, Sayers ground his way to 53 in a little over three hours but once he had gone Yorkshire's collective resolve drained away.
The last eight wickets fell for 46 runs as Yorkshire, who had been fortunate to lose only Adam Lyth and Joe Root before lunch. Lyth, having cracked the first ball of the match through the covers for four, perished leg before to the first ball of Chapple's second over at the pavilion end, Root falling in similar fashion to the last ball of Farveez Maharoof's first over at the river end.
Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire captain, should have been stumped on two when he took a liberty with Gary Keedy and threatened to take advantage but the left-arm spinner, finding turn at the pavilion end on day one, ultimately bowled him round his legs. Keedy soon struck again when Gary Balance popped a catch to silly point.
Guy was bowled by Maharoof, whose ambition to persuade the Sri Lankan selectors of his worth can only benefit Lancashire, before Keedy held a return catch driven by Adil Rashid. Two more for Maharoof and another for Keedy, both men ending with four wickets, wrapped things up quickly. Yorkshire's scoring rate had been under two runs per over.
Lancashire lost Stephen Moore in the fifth over of their reply but negotiated the remaining 11 without serious alarms, which perhaps indicated a slight easing of the conditions but also highlighted how well Lancashire had bowled as a unit, so well that Saj Mahmood and Simon Kerrigan, both left out - in the latter's case despite a match-winning five for seven in his last appearance, against Warwickshire - were scarcely missed.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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