Croft ton boosts Lancashire
Worcestershire 77 for 5 v Lancashire 282
Steven Croft's second successive century and some devastating new-ball bowling helped Lancashire seize control of their Championship match against Worcestershire at Blackpool. Returning to his home club, Croft made 107 off 111 balls as Glen Chapple's batsmen scored 282 in their first innings. That total looked formidable as Worcestershire slumped to 21 for 5 before Aneesh Kapil and Gareth Andrew guided their side to 77 for 5 at the close.
In a dramatic last 90 minutes of the day, Chapple took three wickets and Kyle Hogg two more as the visitors' top order had no answer to late swing and sharp movement off the Stanley Park wicket. Matt Pardoe, Vikram Solanki and Alexei Kervezee all fell to slip catches while Moeen Ali was lbw first ball and skipper Daryl Mitchell played on.
The performance of the Lancashire seamers almost overshadowed the achievement of 26-year-old Croft, who had come to the wicket with his side on 62 for 3. He soon lost Paul Horton before adding 87 with Farveez Maharoof, who made 29, and 90 in under 14 overs wicket with his sixth-wicket partner Gareth Cross.
Croft dominated both stands, reaching his 50 in 60 balls and then hitting four big sixes as he reached his century off only 38 further deliveries. The Worcestershire spinners came in for rough treatment, Ali being dispatched for two leg-side sixes and Shaaiq Choudhry conceding 25 runs off two overs as Croft reached his hundred with a six over long on.
Croft's destruction of the Worcestershire bowling left Mitchell's team deeply regretting the escape they had given him on 33 when the sun's reflection off a window prevented substitute fielder Nick Harrison even getting a hand to a straightforward chance at long leg off Alan Richardson.
The Worcestershire attack eventually got their man when Croft fended a vicious Kapil delivery straight to Mitchell at slip and that wicket sparked a collapse as Lancashire lost their last five wickets for 26 runs in just 53 balls. Richard Jones finished with 3 for 62 and Andrew 3 for 47.
The afternoon's rapid dramas were in sharp contrast to a tough morning session in which Mitchell's bowlers had made reasonable use of winning the toss to reduce Lancashire to 97 for 4 at lunch. On a wicket offering the visitors' attack plenty of early help, Horton made a watchful 47 but the opener was fourth out 10 minutes before lunch when he edged Ali to Mitchell at slip.
The Worcestershire seamers had controlled the rest of the session, Jones taking two wickets and Richardson the other as the Red Rose top order sought to see off the new ball.