Notts v Lancs, LV= Champ Div 1, Trent Bridge, 2nd day April 7, 2014

Lancashire batting in question

Lancashire 77 for 6 trail Nottinghamshire 272 (Patel 93, Hales 61, Anderson 5-55) by 195 runs

Only 34 overs were possible on the second day of this game, but there was enough play to suggest that Lancashire's batting could be a major issue for them this season.

Lancashire were reduced to 77 for 6 by the time rain intervened, meaning they still require 46 more runs to avoid the follow-on. While conditions remain helpful for seam bowlers, this is something close to a second string attack for Nottinghamshire. Had Andre Adams, who has a calf injury, or Peter Siddle, who hopes to arrive on Tuesday having resolved his visa issues, been available, things could have been much worse for Lancashire.

This is not a new problem for them. In 2012, the year they were relegated in the County Championship, it was their batting that let them down. They passed 400 only twice in the season and only one batsman - Ashwell Prince - scored more than 700 runs. Prince was also the only man in the side to score a century at home.

So their failure to strengthen is a surprise. While the presence of Simon Katich helped them gain promotion last year - both he and Prince passed 1,000 Championship runs - there was little sign of improvement from the regular players, with no-one else reaching 750. With Katich retired, the burden on Prince who is now 36, appears excessive.

Help may be at hand. The club, keen to provide opportunities for their young batsmen, have yet to sign an overseas player and could call for reinforcements. Faf du Plessis, who made such a positive impression upon the club in his previous stint as a Kolpak registration in 2008-09, is one obvious candidate and would now be able to gain a visa as an overseas player.

But such measures tend to mask problems rather than solve them and Lancashire are, admirably, taking a longer-term view. They aim to provide room in the side for the likes of 23-year-old Luis Reece to develop into a high-quality player who could serve club and perhaps country for several years.

But, Reece apart, the lack of batsmen who have developed through the club's system is an obvious weakness and does threaten their Division One survival prospects. Karl Brown and Steven Croft, two locally developed players who were not selected for this match, do not have the first-class averages (26.32 and 31.29 respectively) to suggest they are the answer to Lancashire's problems.

Lancashire never looked likely to prosper in their first innings here. After Paul Horton, attempting to play across a full ball, was the only victim of a fine first spell from Luke Fletcher, Reece, with feet of cement, fenced at one he could have left off the decidedly slippery Harry Gurney. Andrea Agathangelou lost his off stump having left one that nipped back, before Prince was drawn into poking at one he could have left to present Jake Ball with his maiden Championship wicket. Ball, a rangy seamer, followed up with the delivery of the day, nipping back into the left-hander Luke Procter, to win a leg before decision. By the time Alex Davies' loose drive was beaten by another than nipped back, Lancashire were in something approaching disarray.

There is a little mitigation. Such early-season pitches magnify batting flaws and, had Glen Chapple and Kyle Hogg been available for Lancashire, it is likely that Nottinghamshire might have struggled to pass 200.

But take James Anderson out of this Lancashire side - and England surely will - and the county remains as overly-reliant on Chapple as it has for much of the last decade. And that, in turn, might have consequences for the coaching aspirations of Peter Moores. For while Lancashire's long-term ambitions are clearly to be applauded, it would be an odd situation whereby the ECB employed their new coach from a team struggling towards the bottom of the Championship and seemingly unable to mend a long-existing weakness.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rafi on April 8, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    Everyone knows Lancashire have needs a new batsman. I would think that Moores also knows that. Whether Faf makes a return or someone else comes in, I expect Lancs will bring an international batter in sooner rather than later. The rest of the squad seems rock solid. Lancashire bowled out a Notts team with a few internationals for not very much, despite missing Hogg and Chapple. Lancashire's signing of Buttler was always going to be a bit of a gamble, but I would think that he won't play Tests for at least this year (Steve Davies is also probably on the verge of overtaking him in the pecking order anyway), and Alex Davies seems like he's got a bright future, him playing five or six games is probably about perfect for his development, without putting on too much pressure.

  • Mark on April 8, 2014, 7:08 GMT

    @DesPlatt I tend to agree on Peter Moores. He did some good things with England, but the decline only stopped when he left and stopped very suddenly, leading to years of success. At very least it was unfortunate timing that the success should start when he left.

    Two days into the season is early days to suggest that Lancashire will struggle, particularly having dominated CC2 so totally last year, although early impressions were certainly accurate last year with Derbyshire. They may yet do enough to save this game.

  • Peter on April 8, 2014, 4:52 GMT

    I am intrigued by the use of the word "frightened". Frightened of what? Has someone been threatening the critics?

    Players who have thrived under Moores: Simon Kerrigan, Kyle Hogg, Glenn Chapple, Luis Reece, Paul Horton, Tom Smith, Luke Procter.

    The last time Lancashire were all out for less than 250 was 20 June 2013, and even then they had a first innings lead of 97. Other than that, there were only two matches in 2013 in which they were out for low scores, and they won both of those matches as well. After a run of low scores when asked to open, Procter dropped down the order and averaged 55 in the latter half of the season. Horton scored three centuries in six innings and Reece hit seven consecutive 50s.

    The batting line-up is better than yesterday's performance suggests. Agathangelou is a worry but the others will score runs.

    We surely follow cricket to enjoy it, and this must be easier to do when we look for positives as well as negatives.

  • Des on April 7, 2014, 20:08 GMT

    Geoffboyc; I 've been a voice in the wilderness railing against Moores. He gets so little criticism. Met another spectator at the game today who was delighted to find someone who agrees with her on this. She has been frightened to speak out against him as the prevailing wisdom is that he is so good. Jimmy Anderson was talking yesterday about all the players who've thrived under him at Lancs. Can someone name them? It isn't just the batting; Lancs out cricket yesterday was an indictment of a coach who is all bull and no substance. Notts should have been a similar score.

  • Chris on April 7, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    Absolutely spot on. Lancs have made no attempt to replace the influential Katich and any top six that includes Horton, Agathangelou, Procter and young Davies will struggle at this level even on decent pitches. If Peter Moores thinks this represents an acceptable batting line up, or even the best one available, then he shouldn't be coaching Lancashire let alone England. Add to this the enforced absence of the two bowlers and Lancs are really up against it here.

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