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Jon Culley at Aigburth
May 19, 2011
Lancashire 327 for 8 v Yorkshire 141
Lancashire's popularity here continues. Warmer weather brought out a crowd of around 2,000 and dire police warnings about the fate of cars injudiciously parked along Riversdale Road provided regular employment for the PA announcer.
The Lancashire team have no such problems but they enjoy coming here for the results they are securing rather than the parking arrangements. Against a Yorkshire side deprived of key personnel and showing signs of faltering confidence, they will fancy themselves to make it three wins out of three this season.
Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire captain, arrived in chipper mood after watching Huddersfield Town secure their place in the League One play-off final but he had less cause for optimism by the end of the day as Lancashire established a lead of 186 that looks good enough to be the foundation for a victory that would reinstate them at the top of the Division One table.
Glen Chapple, by contrast, would have been well pleased. He added the milestone of 7,000 first-class runs for Lancashire to the 800 wickets he notched up earlier in the season and played his part in a collective effort from his side's supporting cast that ensured that Yorkshire's occasional successes with the ball did not precipitate any major shifts of initiative.
Steven Croft's 41, Farveez Maharoof's 34 and Luke Procter's unbeaten 23 added value to a performance built around two solidly patient innings, from Paul Horton and Mark Chilton, that extolled the virtues of patient application that only Joe Sayers, really, had been able to summon when Yorkshire batted.
A slow pitch that had proved such a struggle for Yorkshire on the opening day posed generally fewer problems but still demanded the appropriate concentration and good judgement and both Horton and Chilton for the most part won the battle.
Horton, whose accent is still demonstrably Australian despite his Merseyside upbringing, set himself for a long occupation after the early loss of overnight partner Karl Brown and rarely looked in difficulty. Brown was leg before on the front foot to Steve Patterson but Yorkshire's vain efforts to make further inroads before lunch only reminded Gale that Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad can leave big boots to fill.
Scoring runs at was still difficult, certainly compared with the rate of progress at Whitgift School and Worcester in particular, but Horton is a batsman to whom patience comes naturally and he took his scoring chances well, collecting nine boundaries. A century looked his for the taking but after facing 198 balls spread over three and a half hours with rare discomfort he edged a leg break from Adil Rashid with a slightly hesitant push and was caught behind. It left him regretful on 93, knowing he should have done better.
Rashid could never find the control that Gary Keedy had applied for Lancashire, nor bowl a consistently good line, and was to some degree upstaged by the rookie Joe Root, who at one stage took two wickets in two balls with his off breaks.
He bowled Croft, who chopped on, and had Gareth Cross leg before, the latter falling first ball for the second time in as many innings. When Maharoof decided to sweep the hat-trick ball, Root thought for a moment he might have miscued it, but it ran along the ground to square leg.
By then Mark Chilton, another who relishes getting his head down, had built on Horton's foundations. The pair put on 81 for Lancashire's third wicket and Chilton then anchored a 90-run partnership with Croft for the fourth. Like Horton, though, he perished to a stroke not in keeping with the tenor of what had gone before, edging loosely to Adam Lyth at slip.
Gale did not take the new ball until it was 21 overs overdue, which seemed a curious decision. When Ryan Sidebottom did get his hands on it, he soon bowled Maharoof comprehensively, but by then the Sri Lankan all-rounder had been able to give Lancashire's progress another surge, leading the way as he and Procter added another 55 potentially valuable runs.
Sidebottom claimed Chapple as his second wicket but Lancashire will fancy themselves to stretch their advantage beyond 200 and Yorkshire will need to fight long and hard to avoid a heavy defeat.
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