Chapple inspires miraculous victory
Lancashire 123 (Glover 3-29, Hogan 3-31) and 272 (Katich 65, Glover 3-41) beat Glamorgan 242 (Goodwin 69, Kerrigan 4-48) and 139 (Kerrigan 5-32, Chapple 4-64) by 14 runs
A glance at the scorecard for this match will do little to convey the intricacy of the contest over three days or the astonishing drama that unfolded on Friday evening when Glamorgan seemed to be progressing to what would have been a deserved victory in facile fashion, only to implode in spectacular style when within sight of 20 points.
Needing to score 154 in a maximum of 47 overs on the third evening, Glamorgan cruised to 94 for 2 in 18.2 overs before losing the remainder of their wickets for 45 runs in 19.2 overs.
Destroyer-in-chief was Glen Chapple, who once again proved that age is just a number when you have skill and core fitness in abundance. He had been roughly treated early in the innings yet he returned to take four wickets including top scorer Will Bragg for 61. Accurate and penetrative, Chapple is always at the batsmen, but so is Simon Kerrigan, the sorcerer's apprentice. Bowling from the Penrhyn Avenue End, Kerrigan contained the batsmen and among his five wickets was the vital scalp of Murray Goodwin, caught by Simon Katich for 11 when attempting a cut.
It was Kerrigan who had last man Michael Hogan spectacularly caught by a leaping Ashwell Prince on the long-off boundary as Hogan sought to score the 15 runs his team needed in something like three blows. That wicket sparked joyous scenes in front of the Colwyn Bay pavilion by Chapple and his players who were celebrating their first Championship win in 11 matches, a run stretching back to last June's triumph on a gloomy Saturday evening at Chester-le-Street.
But at first it had been the Glamorgan batsmen who were racing towards victory. Spectators settling down after tea expected the siege of Stalingrad; instead they got the Battle of M'boto Gorge from Blackadder Goes Forth. Wallace's openers seemingly had little truck with arguments suggesting cautious accumulation was the best policy. Ben Wright and Will Bragg garnered 38 runs off the first 27 balls of the innings, a result of some over-pitched bowling, a few edges and a fast outfield, before Wright cut James Anderson low to Karl Brown in the gully. It seemed both teams had plans for Saturday. Now Lancashire's players may be nursing the odd sore head while Glamorgan's will be wondering where it all went wrong.
"That win's right up there with any we have achieved over the last two years," Chapple said. "It's a terrific victory and a great boost for the lads who have worked hard. It's been a difficult week for us in some ways because we have not played our best cricket but we hung on and kept believing. We've come away with a victory we'll remember for a long time."
But as Glamorgan discovered to their cost, getting into a winning position is one thing; sealing the victory - "bringing home the bread" as they call it in parts of Manchester - is very much another. At 12.22pm on the third day of this match Simon Katich essayed a drive at Glamorgan seamer John Glover but only succeeded in edging the ball to wicketkeeper Mark Wallace. His departure for a well-made, fighting 65 left Lancashire on 164 for 7 in their second innings and their lead was a piffling 45. It seemed Glamorgan were on their way to consecutive victories.
Then again, this is cricket, a game which delights in taking the absurdly improbable and making it so. First Chapple and Gareth Cross added 42 for the eighth wicket, Chapple whacking Hogan into the back garden of a nearby house during his innings of 26. Then, when Chapple had holed out at mid-on off Mike Reed when the lead was 89, Kyle Hogg joined Cross, who was himself playing on the ground of the club he has represented in the Liverpool competition for some years. Together, these Lancastrians put on a further 63 runs with a mixture of shrewd aggression and unsparing vigilance.
Rarely has Cross, a naturally aggressive batsman, played with more responsibility than he did during his 143-minute innings of 26; it took a fine two-handed diving catch by Dean Cosker to remove him. One run later Hogg gave Glover his third wicket when he stretched to drive and trudged off having made 47, yet another reminder of a frequently unfulfilled talent. All the same Lancashire's lead was 153. It was, as they say, game on.
The first session of the day had been as well contested and involving as its predecessors. Lancastrian hopes that Jimmy Anderson would frustrate the Glamorgan bowlers in the classic manner of the specialist nightwatchman were quickly demolished when the England batsman was beaten all ends up by Jim Allenby in the third over of the day when only a single run had been added to the overnight total.
But likewise, Welsh fancies that the visitors' batting would disintegrate like candyfloss in a high wind were similarly unfounded. Instead Katich and Steven Croft batted with busy, acquisitive competence to add 49 runs in fifteen overs before both batsmen perished caught behind attempting to drive in the space of three overs. Croft was the first to go, playing loosely at Reed, then Glover took the key wicket of Katich when he drove in a flurry of dust and footholds and Tim Robinson decided he had edged the ball. Not everyone was convinced but Katich trooped silently off. Never walk, never complain. He had made 65, an innings which had certainly kept his side in the game. As things turned out, it played a large part in winning it.