Enthralling contest cut short by storm
Lancashire 185 (Prince 51 Trego 4-49, Thomas 4-63) and 242 (Prince 12) drew with Somerset 149 (Hildreth 45 Chapple 3-38, Kerrigan 3-47) & 93 for 3
There may have been little for cricket fans to appreciate on a final day decimated by rain, but those arriving at Aigburth early will have witnessed a duel good enough to compensate for the later frustration.
Two county captains, standing toe to toe, attempting to carry their respective sides to victory, provided an enthralling distraction from a disappointing result for both sides.
Lancashire and Somerset both began the final day with hopes of securing a victory that would significantly lift their hopes at either end of the division one table. The key confrontation in settling the outcome would be the ability of Marcus Trescothick, Somerset's outstanding batsman, against Glen Chapple, Lancashire's ever-green seamer with more than 800 first class victims in his career.
Their battle within the game lasted only 10 overs this morning as Somerset resumed on 22 for 1 needing a further 257 runs for victory. It should have set the scene for a compelling contest only for a lunch-time thunder-storm to end play with the game balanced after Somerset reached 93 for 3 with a minimum of 64 more overs in the day.
In the end Chapple won their confrontation, securing an lbw appeal with a ball that kept low mid-way through an outstanding eight-over spell from the River End. Trescothick departed for only 27, although he had clearly relished the intensity of a contest that he has encountered all too rarely since problems with depression forced his retirement from international cricket in 2008.
"It was really competitive, which is just what you want in county cricket," admitted Trescothick. "It was two good players going at it and working hard for their individual teams. We are both captains of our clubs and we have to do our best. That's what you thrive on, that's the challenge you miss from international cricket and it's great to get it in county cricket."
Chapple thought he had claimed Trescothick's scalp in the fourth over of the day, inducing an edge which Paul Horton failed to hold above his head at first slip. Glaring at his Somerset rival in frustration, Chapple trudged back to his mark to try again.
There was little doubt Trescothick was the wicket Lancashire craved most, judging by an over-enthusiastic appeal for a catch behind in Chapple's next over. Trescothick stood in his crease, defiantly, while umpire Peter Hartley remained un-moved. The Lancashire captain succeeded on his third attempt when uneven bounce beat Trescothick's outstanding hand-eye co-ordination and appeared to deal a serious blow to Somerset's desire to chase down their target.
That was further undermined when James Hildreth edged Kyle Hogg and Andrea Agathangelou dived from second slip to take the catch. The composure shown in the remaining 13 overs before lunch by Nick Compton, county cricket's leading run-scorer, and Craig Kieswetter only served to heighten the anticipation for the remainder of the day.
The weather intervened, leaving Somerset still behind Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire and Sussex in the race for the title, while Lancashire are only nine points ahead of the relegation places having played more matches that Worcestershire and Durham, who occupy the bottom two places in the division.
"It's been a pretty hard fought game all the way through," said Trescothick. "It was evenly poised although it may have been more in their favour than ours with the scoring rates in the game, but who knows what could have happened if we'd have got a partnership together?"
Peter Moores, Lancashire's coach, was equally frustrated at being thwarted in their attempt to claim an all too rare victory this summer, but knows he has issues to address in the batting line-up. Dismissed for 63 against Worcestershire in the previous match, they slumped to 50 for 6 until Ashwell Prince's brilliant century turned this match around.
"We need people in form. We have had a bit of a strange season, we have had people playing well but not always turning that into runs," Moores said. "That is something we have talked to the players about. There has to be a steel about them to turn that form into runs when they are playing well.
"The lads are very determined. They know we need runs at the top of the order to put sides under pressure. There is a quality in the side. We haven't finished in the top four of the Championship in the last three years without having decent players who play well under pressure."