Lancashire v Warwickshire, Old Trafford, 4th day April 23, 2014

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.

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  • Chris on April 25, 2014, 12:06 GMT

    I was at OT on Wednesday and didn't think the light appeared much worse than earlier. However, it's ludicrous to blame the umpires. They had taken off the teams for bad light more than once earlier in the game and, in the interests of consistency had to do so again when that light level was reached. Failing to do so would leave them open to the allegation of giving Warwickshire a chance to win at the expense of objectivity; a chance that their pedestrian batting towards the end didn't merit. Change the rules if we want umpiring discretion, but be prepared for even more whinging from the losing camp.

  • Ro on April 24, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    It wasn't bad light at all. It was shoddy umpiring. The players should never have been forced off the pitch when it was spitting with rain and it was brighter at the end of the game than it usually is at noon in Lancashire.

    The umpires need to be banned from all forms of cricket for at least a year for their appalling performance during the final day of this match.

  • Mark on April 24, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    I have to agree with the people who wonder about the Warwickshire tactics. The light was always going to be an issue and, in those circumstances, with a small target to chase and defeat almost ruled out, you have to go hell-for-leather assuming that your 32 overs will be reduced to 15 or 20. Instead there was a go-slow. Yes, it is possible that Warwickshire might have ended 8-down and hanging on, but at least they wouldn't have died wondering.

    Having done the hard work and knocked over Lancashire (who are looking real candidates to go straight back down, at least on early form), you should try and continue to force the issue. It's a pity because Warwickshire had done everything right up to then.

  • Jackie on April 24, 2014, 8:26 GMT

    The final day of a four day game has to be encouraged to proceed to its outcome with as little interference as possible from the umpires. There should be an instruction that if the game is played under floodlights that should ensure that players are not removed for 'bad light'. The ECB should also ensure that the lights are adequate and that would resolve the pink ball problem. If Lords can do it, so can other grounds with ECB assistance. Enough of talk from the ECB this is a really practical solution which can be solved by proper finance and give spectators the chance of exciting finishes not ruined by bad light. English weather is not going to improve. Floodlights can. England doesn't have the good light enjoyed by other countries. Nothing is more infuriating than to see teams going on and off all the time as light improves and then fades again. Farcical the right word. Facing good bowling is one thing, facing that another. It's a blessing in England when it's dry.

  • keith on April 24, 2014, 6:28 GMT

    I would agree it is worrying that Moores thinks the Lancs batting line up is strong enough for Div 1 on the basis of the two matches played so far, but hopefully a couple more will step up to the plate as the season unfolds. A ridiculous end to what had promised to be a thrilling finish, the draw for Lancs will improve their mood but much sympathy for Warwks for being denied the chance to win and as unlikely as it seemed, Lancs may have taken a late flurry of wickets to clinch victory themselves. How are we ever to entice youngsters to the four day game if this continues.

  • Chris on April 23, 2014, 23:08 GMT

    This final day's play was utterly absorbing. From the determination of Horton, helped by Buttler for a while, in trying not to lose their wickets and force a draw to the likelihood of Warwickshire taking the win points following the Lancashire later order batting collapse to the possibility of either side winning, the day's play was full of twists and turns. Entertainment at its best.

    The only sour point was the actions of the umpires in taking off the players for bad light. Amongst the people I was sitting with, not one knew how the umpires could tell the difference between natural light and enhanced light from the floodlights. It started raining (lightly) after the players had been taken off so perhaps the outcome was right, but not for the right reasons.

    The bad light rules are supposed to be for the safety of the players. So how come its safe play in one day games in similar conditions but not safe to do so in the county championship?

  • Matthew on April 23, 2014, 21:43 GMT

    I really don't understand why if a days play is lost play for the remaining days doesn't start 30 or 45 minutes earlier. That would have lead to a results here for certain, probably at Glamorgan and Leicester and possibly at Durham. Sadly common sense and English cricket don't go together.

    As for Lancs it is worrying that the England coach thinks that, that batting line up is good enough for Div 1 and that no replacement for Katich is required.

  • Jackie on April 23, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    This is a fine write up of what proved to be another exciting game provided by Warks under the captaincy of Bell. There's a never say die about Warks which makes for exciting cricket whatever the outcome. However they were very unlucky to be taken off for bad light within sight of victory. The ECB promised to put an end to this nonsense after the farcical ending to the Test match at the Oval last summer. Supporters, spectators and fans deserve matches to be finished properly. And when floodlights are provided, batsman can see well enough. Chopra had just smashed a four. The only thing in danger was the reputation of Mr Moores on his departure day as his team was about to lose in front of him.

  • David on April 23, 2014, 20:25 GMT

    Dougie Brown may very well feel deeply aggrieved but Warwicks must shoulder a fair portion of the blame for only coming away with a draw.

    They had been off for poor light earlier in the final session and on the resumption played out several consecutive overs for one or two runs each, despite having plenty of wickets in hand.

    Another light break was quite likely (almost inevitable at Manchester in April), so just a little more urgency would have sealed the win.

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