Goodwin shores up Glamorgan advantage
Lancashire 123 and 104 for 4 (Hogan 3-29) trail Glamorgan 242 (Goodwin 69, Kerrigan 4-48, Anderson 3-63) by 15 runs
As part of Glamorgan's community programme, schoolchildren from Ysgol Llandrillo yn Rhos and Ysgol Llangelynnin were invited to the Rhos-on-Sea ground on the second day of this match. They provided a guard of honour and played games of Kwik Cricket in the lunch interval. For the rest of the time they watched the two teams compete at a rather slower tempo as they fought for dominance in this excellent advertisement for Division Two cricket.
One hopes that the young enthusiasts learned that this game does not have to be played at a helter-skelter pace in order to be absorbing. Maybe one or two of them understood the value of Murray Goodwin's 69 in Glamorgan's first innings total of 242, which gave the home side a lead of 119. Whatever their national loyalties, one hopes that they appreciated the skills exhibited by James Anderson in taking 3 for 63 and Simon Kerrigan in bagging 4 for 48 to limit that advantage. Finally, one or two may have stayed behind as Ashwell Prince and Simon Katich defied the Welsh side's attack for well over an hour to give Lancashire supporters hope that they may yet turn around a match in which they have been more or less second best throughout.
For while this day's play was not "cricket for the connoisseur", a phrase implying very specialist knowledge that has nothing but mere alliteration in its favour, it was cricket for those who realise that there is more to the modern game than a free hit and a freebie. By the close of play Lancashire had scrapped their way to 104 for 4 and were still 15 runs behind. Yet for all that the late dismissal of Prince turned the match significantly in Glamorgan's favour, it is still by no means clear what the outcome will be or even when that outcome will be reached. Excellent.
Cricket is settling into its charming rhythms and this was also a Thursday to sharpen the appetite for the next five months - and for the English summer too. "The trees are coming into leaf / Like something almost being said," wrote Philip Larkin in one of the late Peter Roebuck's favourite poems. As this match's beguiling architecture subtly changed, the pleasure and involvement of the good crowd was almost palpable as they accustomed themselves to what, for many of them, will be a glad season indeed.
For example, it is difficult to think that many sessions of Championship cricket will be more tenaciously fought than was this second morning. Every hard-won run was treasured by Glamorgan's batsmen and Kerrigan's successes could not have been more warmly greeted had they been vital breakthroughs in the business end of the summer. Standing firm against Anderson, who left not an ounce of effort in his England kitbag, was Murray Goodwin, squat, pugnacious and skilled. Glamorgan's decision to sign the Zimbabwean after he had racked up just 360 first-class runs for Sussex in 2012 may yet come to be seen as one of the coups of the summer.
Just when Glamorgan's superiority threatened to become dominance, Kerrigan had a driving Jim Allenby pouched at midwicket for 46. Three more wickets left Glamorgan eight down with a lead of 70 at lunch, by which time the spectators needed a break almost as much as the players. Goodwin reached his fifty soon after the resumption and was last out, attempting to work Hogg through third man. He had batted 206 minutes and faced 134 balls. It was a noble effort, the type of innings the professionals admire.
The one certainty about Lancashire's second innings was that it needed to be a better, ballsier effort than their first. Even in conditions which assisted swing bowlers, that 123 was not really halfway towards a par score and for all that the Red Rose have achieved two substantial first-innings leads this season, their top order is pretty flaky. So it proved again. Michael Hogan caught the edge of Luke Procter's bat with the final ball of the fifth over and brought one back off the seam to pluck out Karl Brown's middle pole. In between, Mike Reed, 6ft 4in tall and exhibiting plenty of well-directed aggression, had Paul Horton taken by Wallace. That left Lancashire on 49 for 3 and there were still 25 overs left in the day.
Katich and Prince approached their task in the manner of international cricketers who have proved themselves in the fire. They mastered Wallace's bowlers even if they did not bully them, and it seemed they would both survive to face another morning. Then Prince padded up to the third ball of Hogan's final over and Tim Robinson raised his finger. Nightwatchman Anderson helped Katich ensure that there were no further losses before the close. The crowd trooped homewards.