Scott intrudes on Croft day of delight
Lancashire 13 for 0 trail Worcestershire 291
(Scott 106, Kerrigan 4-117) by 278 runs
Under normal circumstances when a player like Ben Scott emerges from a desperate time with the bat to score a determined century and help Worcestershire reach a competitive total, it would take a serious performance to eclipse him. It perhaps summed up his misfortune this season that at Old Trafford he encountered a Lancastrian who enjoyed a day of his dreams.
For any cricketer to be called into an England squad for the first time is a memorable day, in Steven Croft's case he is one of 30 selected in the provisional squad for the World Twenty20 tournament to be held in Sri Lanka in September. If that was not enough of a celebration, he marked it by claiming three wickets with his occasional off-spin, took two catches and contributed to a crucial run out.
Even if he does not make the final 15 for the trip to Sri Lanka, which is due to be announced next month, it was some day for Croft, who only took up off-spin seriously at the suggestion of VVS Laxman after bowling to him in the nets two years.
"It's one of the biggest honours I've achieved to be named in an England squad," said Croft. "I've not been in one before or with the Lions, so it's nice to be involved. It was difficult to keep it to myself and not tell the lads but they were very happy for me when it was announced.
"I don't usually get a bowl but it was a good day to get three wickets, a couple of catches and a run out - the ball seemed to follow me today and hopefully it continues with the bat and I can score some runs in the match to top it off. You've just got to try and make the most of it when those days come along."
Called on to bowl his off-spin shortly before lunch with Worcestershire on 54 for one after winning the toss in cloudy conditions, he claimed a crucial lbw against Australian opener Phil Hughes in the over before the interval and followed up with wickets in his first two overs of the next session to remove Moeen Ali and Vikram Solanki.
By the time his England call-up had been officially announced in the afternoon session, he had also claimed two catches in successive balls from Simon Kerrigan, Lancashire's left-arm spinner, at leg slip that left Worcestershire reeling on 93 for six, although Scott nervously defended the hat-trick ball.
During the next 41 overs Scott teamed up with Matthew Pardoe to forge a crucial 127-run seventh wicket stand, taking advantage of improving conditions as the sun burst through at Old Trafford. Neither player came into the match with any sort of form, Pardoe having scored only 128 runs in eight innings and while Scott has struggled to only 45 runs in his previous 11 championship innings.
Those struggles clearly had done little to damage either players' confidence with neither player giving a chance during the next 41 overs until Scott called for a quick single after Croft made a diving stop at backward point, only for the Blackpool-born batsman to recover quickly and return the ball to the non-striker's end before Pardoe could make his ground.
Pardoe's 55 was crucial to Worcestershire's recovery but Scott when further and scored 106, his first century since moving from Middlesex during the close season after a successful loan spell at New Road last summer. He was the last man out, giving Kerrigan his fourth wicket by driving to mid-on, but he had at least kept his side in the contest.
"I thought he batted really well," said Croft. "We've played Worcester in the past when they've just collapsed but he came in at a hard time when the pitch was spinning but he stuck it out and played very well in the end."