Anderson pulls his weight for Lancashire
Lancashire 43 for 2 trail Kent 244 (Powell 57, Nash 50) by 201 runs
James Anderson has certainly not shirked any responsibility on his return to Lancashire. After sending down more than 25 overs in his first spell of the season he emerged as nightwatchman on a day where a combination of rain and a cautious approach from the home side's top-order meant the match did not progress very far.
In 38.1 overs there were 71 runs and four wickets, with the weather costing the best part of the two sessions. Two of those scalps went to Anderson during the morning session as he wrapped up Kent for what he termed "an under par" 244 before Lancashire set about laying the platform for a substantial reply, however long that takes.
He then reprised the job he did for England for a number of years before losing it to Steven Finn in New Zealand. After Finn's epic rearguard in Dunedin, Anderson will not be getting the nightwatchman position back anytime soon - at least while Finn is in the team - but it appears to be his whenever he makes rare county appearances.
"I'm delighted," he said, with a hint of a smile, about returning to the role. "There was a bit of discussion, but I was out the room for most of it. I don't mind doing it. It would have been a bit unfair on Simon Kerrigan as he hasn't done it a lot before whereas I have. I felt it was a nice pitch to bat on at the end, but I'm sure I'll get a few bouncers, which I'll look forward to. I'm not saying I'll blast fifty or a hundred, but I think I can do a job for the team."
In the more important part of his job, Anderson bowled with pace and hostility on a sluggish surface throughout his five spells - the last of which was spread over the first evening and second morning as he claimed all four of his wickets in the space of seven overs with the second new ball. He had bowled well enough to claim top-order scalps, so the late rewards were justified and it was certainly not a case of padding out figures.
"It was a useful amount of overs first day back," he said. "There was a bit in the pitch and all in all I was pleased with the way I bowled. It was frustrating at times, but that's the way it goes and I knew if I hung in long enough, and with the way I was bowling, I'd get some rewards in the end."
Lancashire built on the bowlers' work - Anderson singled out Kyle Hogg's role as well - with a determination to see off the new ball that was very similar to their approach in the opening game of the season against Worcestershire. On that occasion the platform was converted by a 181-run stand in 32 overs between Ashwell Prince and Simon Katich; this game will need either something similar or a clatter of wickets for Kent if it is to spark into life.
The way the top-order played - and Kent went about their innings in a very similar manner - was understandable in April conditions, but it will be interesting to see how adaptable players such as Luke Procter, Paul Horton and Karl Brown are as the season develops. Run rates of under two for such a sustained period leave some catching up to be done.
"We've got some serious players to come," Anderson said. "It's dangerous looking too far ahead but, as we saw in the last game against Worcestershire, if you can get through the tough periods the batsmen we have left to come can accelerate the innings, so that will be the plan."
The Kent bowling was accurate and steady but not much above medium pace, although Matt Coles was a touch more lively. The first boundary did not arrive until the 70th delivery when Horton clipped one off his toes in front of square, but just as his and Procter's diligence appeared to be taking Lancashire to lunch unscathed Procter pushed at one from Darren Stevens and was well caught at second slip.
After a long break for rain, 19 overs remained - the type of session where there is not much to gain for the batsmen and Lancashire's aim was purely survival. Perhaps that mindset played a small part in Horton's dismissal when he left a ball from Coles that took off stump.
April 25, 9pm BST: This story has replaced the earlier match report
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo