Moores the merrier as Lancs escape
Warwickshire 324 (Bell 75, Chopra 52, Smith 4-67) and 95 for 5 (Chopra 50, Kerrigan 4-38) drew with Lancashire 247 (Horton 83, Woakes 5-63) and 196 (Horton 84, Patel 4-44)
It has been a tough start to the season for Warwickshire. Beaten by Sussex in their first game and deprived for various medical reasons of Ian Westwood, Jonathan Trott and Rikki Clarke, they perhaps needed a spring fillip.
Fortunately for Ian Bell's men, Lancashire's batsmen have begun this County Championship campaign in accommodating mood and it was their dismissal for 196 in the second innings of this game which set up a victory opportunity for the visitors. Much less fortunately for Warwickshire, neither Simon Kerrigan nor the Manchester weather were anything like so amenable and the match ended in an absorbing draw.
As Varun Chopra led the pursuit of 120 in 29 overs, Lancashire's slow left-armer Kerrigan revived memories of previous heroics by taking four wickets, including the vital scalp of Ian Bell, caught at long-off by James Anderson. When Chopra, helped by a resourceful Ateeq Javid, had reduced the requirement to a mere 25 runs off 27 balls, bad light intervened to bring a premature end of what had threatened to be one of the finishes of the season so far.
It was gripping stuff in the Manchester gloom and it even overshadowed, as you might say, the fact that this was Peter Moores' last match as Lancashire coach.
For his part, Warwickshire coach Dougie Brown may feel deeply aggrieved. Denied in similar circumstances against Somerset when chasing the title last August, Brown had seen his players establish a winning position here by dint of fine, purposeful batting and accurate, penetrative bowling. Few things in this game were as rewarding as analysing Bell's intelligent deployment of his attack on this final day, notably his withdrawal of Javid when the part-time offspinner had removed Jos Buttler in his single over.
For all that Lancashire may be comforted by the acquisition of nine points from this game. Desirous of giving Moores a warm farewell before he leaves Old Trafford, their batting frailties will be a cause for concern, even this early in the season. On what was effectively a third-day wicket - it spun, but not outrageously so - Glen Chapple's side lost all their second-innings wickets for 150 runs in 63.2 overs and their last six for 39 runs in 86 balls.
Following their first-innings failures in both their matches so far, Lancashire do not seem to possess the proficient, reassuring top- order upon which successful Division One campaigns are based. If Ashwell Prince fails or Paul Horton is unable to drop anchor, it is not always easy to see how Chapple's batsmen can put together substantial totals. For all that people will remember this game for Bell's batting, Chris Woakes' bowling, Horton's limpet-like resistance and Moores' departure, the dismissals of Prince for 0 and 3 were vital in shaping the architecture of the contest. The South African was third out in the second innings, beaten in the flight and stumped playing defensively to Jeetan Patel.
As for Horton, he followed his 83 in the first innings with a 220-ball vigil for 84 in the second as he sought to save the game. The problem was that once Luis Reece had been caught at slip by Bell off Keith Barker in the third over of the day, no one seemed particularly keen on staying with the watchful opener. At times during the final day it seemed that Horton almost suffered the same fate that befell Mickey Rooney: he nearly ran out of partners.
Instead, Horton was perhaps emboldened to an act of outrageous daring by hitting two boundaries in three balls off Woakes. He gallivanted down the pitch to Patel, was beaten in the flight and heard the death rattle. That dismissal left Lancashire on 157 for 5 and it marked the beginning of the end of their innings.