Smith, Kerrigan heroes for Lancashire
Lancashire 421 (Prince 106, Hastings 4-78) and 107 for 9 (Smith 35*, Hastings 4-40) beat Durham 340 (MacLeod 84, Hastings 83, Smith 5045, Kerrigan 4-86) and 187 (Kerrigan 4-61) by one wicket
At 6.28pm on a sunlit Manchester evening Tom Smith pushed a delivery into the covers off Ben Stokes and hared down the wicket to complete a single with Lancashire's last man Simon Kerrigan. He also won the game for his side. It was one of the finishes of this or any other season, not least because there were only two balls left in the contest
As Lancashire sealed their one-wicket victory, all of Old Trafford was filled with movement. Smith and Kerrigan raced into each other's arms. Members in the pavilion, some of whom might have known better, forgot their dignity and leapt into the air, arms aloft. Elsewhere stewards whooped in delight and members of the commercial staff cheered for rather more than pecuniary reasons.
From the Lancashire dressing room a deep-throated roar of triumph burst forth and it rent the charged air. Stephen Parry, who had apparently been "wittering" to captain Glen Chapple throughout the 26-minute last-wicket partnership, joined in the general jubilee. The victory had pulled Lancashire out of Division One's relegation places, at Durham's expense, and who knows what the consequences might be for the rest of their season?
But wait a minute, please. Not everyone on the ground was moving. For a moment the Durham players stood quite still on the battle-scarred outfield and that instant seemed to last for much longer than a moment until it became Steinbeckian in its significance. Could they have lost? Apparently, they could.
John Hastings, who had taken 4 for 40, could surely not believe that all his mighty strivings had been for naught. The tall Australian had taken three wickets in an 11-over spell to reduce the home side to 31 for 5. In partnership with Chris Rushworth he had made Lancashire's victory target - a mere 107 if you please - seem distant indeed. Only when 19-year-old Alex Davies joined Smith in a 48-run stand for the sixth wicket did batting seem a tolerably straightforward enterprise. Then Davies was lbw to Stokes, the third of Durham's triumvirate of seamers, when the ball shot along this well-used Test wicket. 79 for 7.
The England allrounder then removed both Chapple and Parry with quick, full deliveries to which they should have got forward. That, though, was much easier said than accomplished on this pitch. Stokes took three wickets in eight balls and roared his joy before being engulfed by his team-mates. Then Tom Bailey hoisted Hastings to Mark Stoneman at mid-off and Lancashire were 90 for 9. Kerrigan, a campaign veteran at 25, trooped out to join Smith, who was batting calmly and well in this summer of summers for him. At least, reasoned Kerrigan perhaps, he could do something now, instead of all that watching.
So great was the tension in the long last session of this game that the morning and afternoon's play seemed almost to fade from the memory. Yet that, too, was worthy of detailed recollection for Lancashire's six-strong attack did well indeed, taking nine wickets for 128 to set up the prolonged dénouement.
It had been thought on Sunday evening that Kerrigan would pose the main threat to Durham's batsmen and so, to a degree, it proved. Yet while the slow left-armer claimed three of the first wickets to fall, two of them lbw as Keaton Jennings and Michael Richardson trusted their pads but readily than their bats, the scorecard shows that five Lancashire bowlers enjoyed success this memorable Monday.
Nor was there any rapid collapse in the Durham innings such as those which later afflicted Lancashire. When Kerrigan who took the important wicket of Stokes, brilliantly caught by short leg Steven Croft from a full-blooded clip off the legs, the visitors were 103 for 5 and their lead was a mere 22.
Each of the remaining Durham batsmen made some contribution towards that lead reaching three figures. Phil Mustard made a dozen before he was bowled round his legs by Parry to give the slow left-armer his first Division One wicket since 2009, which is a curious fact for a man who has played T20 cricket for England in the meantime.
Durham went into lunch on 129 for 6 but took 80 minutes losing their last four wickets. Calum MacLeod was defeated by Bailey's direct hit from cover, Hastings, having clubbed 16, edged Chapple to Davies and the ailing Ryan Buckley was taken at slip by Paul Horton off Croft. When last man Rushworth was comprehensively bowled by Bailey, Collingwood was left undefeated on 45, his runs carefully accumulated over 142 minutes of characteristic resistance. Like one of his County Palatine's great Prince-Bishops, the Durham skipper's authority is mighty and his skill impressive. And like his ten colleagues, he did not deserve to travel home defeated. So it must have been hard for him to do so.