Katich signs off successful summer
Leicestershire 60 for 3 trail Lancashire 453 for 7 dec. (Agathangelou 46, Procter 44) by 393 runs
Manchester's infamous rain may have delayed Lancashire's promotion celebrations by frustrating their bid for victory, but Simon Katich departs for a brighter climate this weekend content he has fully contributed to their successful return to Division One.
Katich, the 38-year-old former Australian Test batsman, had little to prove when he agreed a one-year deal to return to Lancashire and help their effort to win promotion at the first attempt this summer. During an illustrious career that has included 56 Tests and 45 one-day international appearances and included spells with four other counties, Katich has built a reputation as a solid performer in all forms of the game.
But when he gets on a plane to India this weekend to captain Perth Scorchers in this year's Champions League T20, he will depart having excelled for Lancashire and taken them to the brink of promotion having scored 1,097 runs at an average of 73.13, including four centuries and six half centuries.
He had hoped to board the flight with promotion already secured but steady rain ensured only 40 overs were bowled on the third day, leaving Leicestershire trailing by 393 runs after Lancashire quickly added 109 in the first 18 overs of the day to secure maximum batting points. Only victory will guarantee a return to Division One, but with two games remaining after this, Katich is confident Lancashire can achieve that final step without his guidance.
"I've really enjoyed the season," he said. "We're so close to winning it and getting promotion. Normally the season goes down to the last games, but because we have played so consistently we have managed to open a gap up on the rest of the group - it's nice to be in the situation now and I'm confident the boys can finish it off in the last two games.
"The older you get, your never take it for granted. I was really hungry and you sense it within yourself, the way you train and the way you prepare. I knew coming off the Big Bash and playing some club cricket, I felt really good with how I was batting.
"When I first got here I felt good from the word go. I was keen to prove a point and show everyone here what I could do and win games of cricket. So far, I have been really happy with the way things have panned out.
Katich, in tandem with Ashwell Prince, Lancashire's Kolpak South African batsman, has provided an experienced core to an evolving batting line-up with youngsters like Luis Reece, Andrea Agathangelou and Luke Procter breaking through to establish themselves this summer. Procter gave his side early impetus after Paul Horton was bowled by Nathan Buck in the fourth over of the day as Lancashire chased quick runs to secure maximum batting points.
Procter became one of two victims for Ned Eckersley's rarely-seen offspin, advancing down the pitch to be stumped after adding 44 off 53 balls, while 19-year-old Alex Davies, playing his maiden Championship innings after wicketkeeper Gareth Cross was dropped, hit three of his first seven balls for four during an unbeaten 30.
Having declared in mid-morning, Lancashire's momentum ensured they dominated the remainder of the session before lunch with Oliver Newby claiming a wicket with his third Championship ball of the season, when Greg Smith played on, before having Angus Robson caught at second slip in his third over. Kyle Hogg followed that early success to have Eckersley caught behind chasing a wide ball, earning him his 250th first-class wicket.
Eagle-eyed members may even have spotted the next player brought in to strengthen Lancashire's Division One campaign next year, former Zimbabwe Test bowler Kyle Jarvis, who looked impressive during a short session with coach Peter Moores during the lunch interval, bowling at good speed and accuracy having agreed a three-year contract as a Kolpak player.
Only 12 more overs were possible during the afternoon session before steady rain halted the contest and it will now take some aggressive cricket from Lancashire to bid their overseas player farewell with promotion already secured.