Kerrigan disappoints but Lancashire stay even
Lancashire 225 and 55 for 2 lead Nottinghamshire 261 (Mullaney 82, Chapple 4-73) by 19 runs
Simon Kerrigan failed to promote his cause as an England spin bowler at Lord's following his call up to the squad for the second Test. Kerrigan's wicketless 10 overs under cloudy Aigburth skies, watched by spectators forced to don fleeces to protect against a shift in the weather, failed to lift his morale with a wicket or two before he headed off to London to join up with the England squad.
Many in the Aigburth crowd had braved the blustery winds off the Mersey in the hope of seeing Kerrigan send down a few overs following his call-up. They were to be both rewarded for their patience and then disappointed as the slow left-armer was introduced into the attack in the 69th over, only to concede 27 runs in an unimpressive seven-over spell. At least England cannot complain of overwork.
Soon after play ended, the former England captain Michael Vaughan described Kerrigan's return to the England squad after a traumatic debut at The Oval last season as premature and expressed fears that if he played at Lord's it could do serious harm to his career.
Indeed, it is something of an irony that the least threatening Lancashire bowler on Monday was the one who left Liverpool to take up international duties at the close. Kerrigan's season, with 28 first-class wickets at 35.57, has been solid but unspectacular, although such are England's thin resources that makes him the leading spin bowler in Division One. Stephen Parry, who played for England in World Twenty20 in Bangladesh earlier this year, will replace him for the remainder of the match.
The batsman to profit from the spinner's inaccuracy was Riki Wessels, who had made 46 when he edged Steven Croft's offspin to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, who grabbed the chance at the second attempt. That left Nottinghamshire on 235 for 6 but the taking of the second new ball sparked a rapid collapse.
Chris Read, Siddle and Luke Fletcher all perished when attempting to take the attack to Glen Chapple and the innings ended when Andre Adams' mighty hoick off Kyle Hogg was very well caught by Andrea Agathangelou running round from deep midwicket.
When bad light ended play 17 overs early, the game was evenly balanced after Lancashire had battled back in the afternoon and evening sessions to take the last seven Nottinghamshire wickets for 103 runs and restrict the visitors' lead to a modest and manageable 36.
This was surely far fewer than Notts coach Mick Newell would have settled for when his team were 133 for 2 20 minutes before lunch; yet from the moment Tom Smith pinned the former Old Trafford allrounder Steven Mullaney lbw for 82, the ball nipping back off the pitch, batting appeared an occupation littered with hazard as first Smith and later Glen Chapple made regular inroads in helpful conditions.
In the first over of play on Monday morning, Chapple, the Lancashire skipper, produced a fine delivery to remove Michael Lumb, who could do little but nick it to Buttler behind the stumps. But that was the last success the home side were to enjoy for over 90 minutes as Mullaney and James Taylor added 64 runs in relative comfort, although Mullaney had a fourth life when second slip Agathangelou dropped a low chance on 62.
For his part, Taylor seemed content to make quiet progress towards a substantial score but he became Smith's second victim immediately after lunch when an attempted pull merely bottom-edged the ball on to the leg stump. Less than half an hour later the Lancashire seamer had taken his season's bag of Championship wickets to 45 when Samit Patel edged him to Agathangelou at second slip.
But an advantage of 36 was still valuable enough and before it had been wiped out, both Lancashire openers had been caught behind by Read off Peter Siddle, who probably views a big haul of wickets as a suitable leaving present for his colleagues before he returns to Australia. But the big-hearted Australian seamer will have worked harder for his triumphs: poor Andrea Agathangelou departed for a second-ball duck, his selection ahead of Alex Davies looking odder by the innings; six overs later Paul Horton fenced fatally at a delivery which possibly bounced a little more than he was expecting.
Fortunately for the nerves of home loyalists, Usman Khawaja and Ashwell Prince took their side to the close without further loss, by which time a lead of 19 had been ground out.
All of which leaves supporters of both sides, and of none, looking forward to a fascinating remainder of the game as Nottinghamshire strive for the win which would bolster their challenge for the County Championship and Lancashire search for a victory which would ease relegation fears. Should the home side prevail, it is fair to suppose that Chapple and Smith will play major roles, so pivotal have been their efforts this season.