Lancashire v Hampshire, Southport, 4th day August 31, 2013

Wheater and Coles provide final-day value

Paul Edwards at Southport

Lancashire 421 (Procter 66, Prince 63, Chapple 63, Kerrigan 62*, Reece 50) and 284 for 5 dec (Horton 111, Reece 65, Taylor 4-64) beat Hampshire 210 (Vince 106, Hogg 5-39) and 373 (Wheater 140, Coles 68, Kerrigan 4-97) by 122 runs

Rather like Charles II, Hampshire's batsmen took an unconscionable time a-dying on the last day of this game and rarely has a death been so entertaining. The 550 spectators who took advantage of the free admission on Saturday morning and trooped into the Trafalgar Road ground can scarcely have imagined that they would get such good value for their money.

The main cause of the fans' pleasure - and the 6,500 who attended this game over four days were not slow to applaud both sides - was a magnificently enterprising 191-run eighth wicket partnership between Adam Wheater and Matt Coles. This pair defied Lancashire's seven-man attack until an hour into the afternoon session when Wheater pushed forward to Simon Kerrigan and was caught by Gareth Cross for 140.

By then Hampshire's wicketkeeper-batsman, whose signing had so perturbed the supporters of former gloveman Michael Bates, had helped Coles break the eighth-wicket record for matches between these counties. He had also caused a number of spectators to revise their plans for Saturday afternoon as they opted to stay at the cricket in preference to trips to Tesco or journeys to the planet Ikea. You could see their point. Talk about something for nothing.

Until Wheater departed there was still some hope of a really spectacular switch of fortunes in a game which Lancashire had dominated for three days. He and Coles had put the hammer down on an attack which was lacking Lancashire skipper Glen Chapple over the course of a morning session in which 38 overs yielded 145 runs. Wheater reached his hundred in 182 balls having hit 19 fours, many of them being the shots of a pedigree batsman; a few moments later Coles's comparative restraint had helped him stroke a 101-ball fifty.

After the game Chapple talked about his team failing to keep their eye on the ball on Saturday and you could see his point: it's tough to keep a cricket ball in view when it is disappearing so rapidly in all directions. None of the Lancashire bowlers performed dreadfully but by the same token none of them looked like taking a wicket apart from Kerrigan who apparently had Coles caught off the glove when he was 15 only for Neil Bainton to turn down the appeal.

Ultimately Coles departed two balls after Wheater when his rather uncharacteristic cross-batted swipe at Luis Reece resulted in the loss of his middle stump when he had made 68. Even then, though, the vaudeville was not over for Lancashire could not celebrate the win that takes them 33 points clear of Northamptonshire at the top of the Division Two table until James Tomlinson and 16-year-old debutant Brad Taylor had added 53 runs for the last wicket in a mere seven overs.

Only when Taylor was stumped off Kerrigan for 20 could Chapple's players savour their win and by then there must have been a measure of anti-climax moderating their joy. If Lancashire bowl as anaemically and inaccurately in Division One, there are a few tough days ahead of them next summer.

Kerrigan, however, will not be worrying too much about that; he took seven wickets in this match and seemed to have got something of his old feel and rhythm back when he bowled on Saturday. Life must seem sweeter and less fraught to him than it did at The Oval just seven days ago.

At the conclusion of the game Hampshire's top order batsmen were surely regretting the spinelessness which had seen them start the fourth day on 133 for 7 with, we all thought, little for which to play. For their part, Lancashire's players will have been pleased, relieved and dissatisfied in equal measure.

But neither team's feelings nor their desire to get home on a busy Saturday prevented them thanking the Southport and Birkdale club for staging this match with such professionalism and panache. If all outgrounds did things as well as this, counties might visit them more frequently and the Test grounds might be rather emptier than they are already when four-day games attract a couple of hundred paying customers who rattle around mighty stands like midgets lost in a labyrinth.

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  • mark on September 3, 2013, 11:25 GMT

    I don't think the bowling is a concern for Lancs; when three bowlers pass 50 wickets just over three quarters of the way through the season, you can see why we are top of the league. Admittedly you wonder how long we can keep going to the well with Chapple, but that's why getting Kyle Jarvis on a three year contact is such a coup. And I was at the ground for the entire game and the wicket was still sumptuous on the final day- it was a great effort to have got 17 wickets across two innings so quickly.

    It was the batting that relegated us last season, and assuming we keep Prince, it's critical that we get Katich again. Quite simply no-one else has score a significant amount of runs, although perhaps Reece would've done so had we got him earlier. That's perhaps why the most encouraging elements of this match were his continuing good form and signs that Horton is - I hope- emerging from the horrors of the last two years.

  • Samuel on September 1, 2013, 13:30 GMT

    Lancs all but up now you feel - been a cut above the rest this year in Div 2, makes you wonder how they ever ended up going down in the first place. Great to see Kerrigan back in the wickets and bowling his side to victory on a last day pitch - exactly what both he and the England selectors will want to see. Must have a good temperament to come back from such a horror at The Oval with such a strong performance.

  • david on September 1, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    will be staying at the lodge for the final home game. by then we should have been crowned CC2 winners. then back to the big time

  • steven on September 1, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Surely a case of overconfidence blended in with some good lower order hitting and a loss of the captain / spearhead of the bowling attack lead to this entertaining day or cricket. People were complaining last night about the bad light factor stopping Lancs wrapping this up in 3 days. Well we do not know what would have happened but if it was anything like Saturday, they would had been playing in pitch black for a finish... Anyway what a glorious day of free cricket for those at the ground to enjoy at the end. Almost as if it was a thank you gift from the players for such a lovely out ground occasion and support received. Back to business and It was a bit of an off day, after lauding the bowlers for taking 17 cheap wickets on a batting paradise wicket. No panic stations about bowling in div 1 yet as they have been having much more good days than bad. Plus I think the bigger test will be for the batsmen to ensure 1st innings scores of 300+ consistently!!

  • Dummy4 on August 31, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    When Wheater and Coles were going strong, I had visions of them doing what Carberry & McKenzie did to Warwickshire in the final game a couple of years back Phew.....! The bowling does seem cause for concern, though thankfully Kerrigan is back in the wickets. Hopefully Reece will develop into a useful all-rounder, though it's hard to see Procter's bowling improving. Chappie and 'Oggy can't carry the bowling forever....and our batsmen don't seem to put enough runs on the board, it always seems to be the overseas players who carry the batting. Still, I'm an optimist by nature - looking forward to Division One next year!

  • Brian on August 31, 2013, 18:45 GMT

    Well that was certainly a lot harder for Lancs than it should have been. " If Lancashire bowl as anaemically and inaccurately in Division One, there are a few tough days ahead of them next summer." Well I certainly think the strongest batting line-up in division 1 would enjoy such anaemic and inaccurate bowling, so the Lancashire locals shouldn't be relishing too much the prospect of their next Roses match next spring against the county champions elect.

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