Lancs lean heavily on Katich, Prince
Lancashire 423 for 5 (Katich 115, Prince 113) trail Glamorgan 474 by 51 runs
For all that Lancashire sit contentedly atop the Division Two table, their batting order in 2013 has displayed all the stability of a post-war Italian government. None of the six predominantly home-developed players who occupied the first half-dozen places when Glen Chapple's team won the title at Taunton in 2011 have played every four-day game this summer.
Paul Horton has been injured for much of the season and Luke Procter for a small part of it. Stephen Moore has played only two County Championship games and, along with Tom Smith and Steven Croft, is currently out of the side. Karl Brown is opening for the first-team but he has been dropped recently too. Into the gaps created by the omission of established batsmen have come Luis Reece and Andrea Agathangelou, both of whom seem to be making the most of their opportunities.
In the midst of this fluxion, Ashwell Prince and Simon Katich have provided the solidity upon which most of Lancashire's best batting efforts have been based. So when Reece trooped off a sun-soaked Old Trafford outfield this morning, having been pinned lbw on the back foot by Dean Cosker for 53, there was a certain inevitability about the way in which Prince and Katich took control of their side's reply to Glamorgan's first innings total of 474.
Coming together at 123 for 2, the two left handers spent the rest of the first session and much of the afternoon building a partnership with a rapidity comparable to that displayed by the lime-jacketed contractors who are erecting scarlet and green stands around Old Trafford in readiness for the Ashes Test which begins in 15 days.
Prince was much the quicker, reaching his 50 off 57 balls with a clip though midwicket off John Glover and his first Championship century of the season with a six into the pavilion off Dean Cosker. But Prince was also the first to depart when he gloved an attempted sweep off Nathan McCullum to Mark Wallace behind the stumps. But by then, Prince had made 113 and shared a stand of 157 with Katich, who had made comparatively sedate progress: when both batsmen had faced 99 balls, Katich was on 35 compared to Prince's 84, although this perhaps reflected his desire to bat long once again.
Katich added a further 36 with Agathangelou before the latter was caught at slip when his indeterminate forward prod off McCullum only edged the ball to Jim Allenby at slip, in which position the same fielder had dropped Katich on 18 off McCullum.
When Lancashire had garnered three bonus points there was some talk of the home side declaring behind and helping to set up a run chase. This proved to be little more than gossip. Katich and Luke Procter ground on into the evening session, the Australian reaching his century with a cover drive off Wagg who later reverted to left-arm spin and had Katich caught down the leg side by Wallace for 115 five overs before the close.
By then Katich had put on 90 with Procter, who goes into the final day on 53. For their part the Glamorgan attack stuck to its task on a pitch which had altered little since Wagg induced Karl Brown to play on for 48 in the eighth over of the day.
That wicket ended Brown's 99-run first-wicket stand with the impressive Reece. The partnership constituted Lancashire's best opening partnership of the season and had the pair added another run it would have been only the seventh time in 129 innings since Peter Moores took over at Old Trafford in 2009 that the openers had put on a century. The last occasion it happened was at Taunton in 2011, the fateful day when Lancashire won the title.
There have been significant changes in personnel since then but it is the addition of Katich -with 874 runs in the Championship this season - that could be so important in assisting Lancashire's attempt to return to English cricket's top table.