Lancashire v Hampshire, Southport, 3rd day August 30, 2013

Local lads help Lancashire prosper

Paul Edwards at Southport

Hampshire 210 and 137 for 7 need a further 359 runs to beat Lancashire 421 and 284 for 5 (Horton 111, Reece 65, Taylor 4-64)

In one respect, at least, "outground" is a misnomer. Although venues away from a county's headquarters do, indeed, entail a journey from a now familiar stadium or ground, they are also a return to the club environment in which almost all players learn the game and to which very many will return when their first-class days are done. Perhaps that is why so many county cricketers show obvious pleasure at the prospect of outground cricket and excel when they play it.

Certainly Lancashire's players enjoyed themselves in Southport's familiar surroundings over the first three days of this match. And why should they have not done so? Most of them will have played club or 2nd XI matches here and over half the side regularly play ECB Premier League cricket here. Such familiarity really does give a team home advantage.

For example, on the third day of a match which Lancashire have bossed in the accustomed manner of league leaders, Paul Horton (Sefton Park and Northern) made a polished 111 off 154 balls and shared an opening stand of 166 with Luis Reece (Leyland) whose own innings of 65 was his sixth successive Division Two half-century in what has become a breakthrough season for him.

Later acceleration was provided by Ashwell Prince and by Andrea Agathangelou (Highfield), the latter batsman hitting braces of fours and sixes in a rapid 28. Such enterprise allowed Lancashire to make 284 for 5 declared in 56 overs and set Hampshire 496 to win, a target which soon proved almost a statistical irrelevance as the visitors limped to 137 for 7 at close of play. Despite the presence of Matt Coles at the wicket, surely all that remains on the fourth morning of this game is for Lancashire to complete their utterly deserved victory.

Yet if it is right to praise Lancashire's dynamic batting in the first half of the third day of this game, it is also proper to laud the efforts of 16-year-old off-spinner Brad Taylor who was making his first-class debut far from home and the Southern Premier League in which he represents Hampshire's Academy. Sticking to his most difficult task with the grit of a seasoned cricketer - you try containing Prince when he has a licence to thrill - Taylor took his first four Championship wickets at a cost of 64 runs in 14 overs. The fact that some of these were the product of the pragmatic exchange of runs for wickets which characterise pre-declaration play does not diminish Taylor's achievement on Friday. He turned the ball and looked a more than decent prospect.

However, the efforts of the Lancashire seam attack on a pitch which rewarded accuracy with the new ball threw the display of their Hampshire counterparts into sharp relief. Glen Chapple had an out of form Jimmy Adams caught at second slip by Agathangelou for 4 but then had to leave the field with an Achilles injury which is still being fully assessed. His team-mates barely noticed his absence as Hampshire's batsmen subsided in the manner of cricketers who know that the four-day format holds no glory for them this summer.

Tom Smith (Chorley and occasionally Formby) accounted for Liam Dawson while Kyle Hogg had Michael Roberts lbw before removing James Vince's off stump when the first innings centurion had made 20. That wicket was Hogg's 56th of the season and he is now the most successful bowler in the County Championship.

Simon Kerrigan (Ormskirk) maintained the form he had begun to discover in the first innings by claiming the wickets of Sean Ervine, who carelessly thrashed him to Luke Procter, the one fielder on the leg side boundary, and also Neil McKenzie, whose 44 was the most significant innings played by a Hampshire batsman on a day many of his colleagues may wish to forget.

Chris Wood's run out raised hopes that the game may be concluded in three days but Coles and Adam Wheater survived until stumps. Barring weather intervention, they have merely succeeded in delaying a victory which will reinforce Lancashire's strong claim to be the best side in Division Two.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • T on August 31, 2013, 19:25 GMT

    I was at Southport yesterday. When the umpires took the players off the light was not playable. Within 10 minutes it had improved and the time lost was made up. What's the problem? As for the comment made by the umpires, well both Messrs Bainton & Lloyds are jocular types and were probably joking. Surely we should be concentrating on the play. Didn't Horton bat well, positive and decisive? Aga & Procter got off the mark with sixes. Kerrigan recovered his loop in the second innings after being mauled by Vince in the first and resorting to over the wicket a la Giles. How good is Hogg? In y opinion he is the best uncapped bowler we have had since Peter Lee. This is what should be discussed!

  • Chris on August 31, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    Where on earth has this issue of umpires being afraid of being hit reared its head from? We've had decades of playing cricket without it being a problem.

    It doesn't wash with me at all. If the lily-livered, square leg umpire is so afraid of being hit with the ball, I suggest that he either wears a helmet or packs up umpiring and finds something else to do that doesn't involve having good eyesight.

  • steven on August 31, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    After day 1 I confidently predicted a run fest and a draw, partway through day 2 and Chapple and Kerrigan batting heroics made me feel like I would be right. I had forgotten just how good a bowling side Lancs are with the red ball to cause batsmen at this level all kinds of bother. Hoping Chapple's Achilles isn't too bad as would be a big loss still even if yesterday's bowling would make you think it wouldn't As for the light, it is a contentious issue which is unlikely to go away, especially with regards unpire's seeing the ball from square leg which is much more difficult than in front of the pitch. Unless bright pink balls become the norm or over rates are improved rapidly.

  • Chris on August 31, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    Yes, I agree with you, Jezc. The issue of taking players off the pitch, not when the batsmen are in danger, but in order to provide consistency and fairness to both teams totally dismisses the premise that cricket at this level is meant to be a spectator sport.

    Cricket isn't fair and never will be. In how many games is an advantage gained by the luck of winning the toss? Perhaps we should do away with the toss and allow the away team to choose whether to bat or bowl first. Perhaps we should play first class cricket in covered indoor arenas on specially-prepared astroturf pitches so that there are no vagaries of the weather or the bounce of the ball?

    We should do none of those things. Similarly, if it's clear to the umpires that the batsmen are not in any real danger, play should continue. Never mind the fairness issue - it's luck of the draw which team is batting or bowling at the time of worsening light.

    Unless fans vote with their feet and cash, there'll be no rule change.

  • Jez on August 30, 2013, 20:54 GMT

    What a farce again - the players coming off for bad light when 2 spinners were bowling - dangerous to the batsmen ? I don't think so especially with 3 big sightscreens at both ends. I asked one of the umpires how the batsmen were in danger when slow bowlers were on. His answer ? He thought it was dangerous to him standing at square leg !! Time for younger umpires I think

    I'm surprised Lancs didn't claim the extra half hour although by the time they came back on, 80% of the 2000 strong crowd had decided enough was enough and thereby denied firstly by the umpires Lancs claiming a 3 day win

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