Petersen, Prince and the little sticks of rock
Lancashire 425 for 2 (Petersen 205*, Prince 154*) vs Glamorgan
One rather doubts that the songs of George Formby feature prominently in Lancashire's post-match victory celebrations; judging from what can be heard near the dressing room: a strident beat recognisable from rugby league matches and the repetition of the county's name does the job perfectly well. Still, there were times on the first afternoon of this game when it seemed that Alviro Petersen and Ashwell Prince could play Glamorgan's bowling with "little sticks of Colwyn rock".
By the close, Petersen and Prince's unbroken third-wicket stand of 321 had steered Lancashire to 425 for 2, a score which already puts the Division Two leaders in a virtually impregnable position. They had inflicted suffering on the grand scale, destructive almost as soon as they began their partnership and they wreaked progressively more havoc as the afternoon drifted into the evening. In the final session 192 runs were scored off 32 overs.
The Port Elizabethan pair's demolition of Glamorgan's seven-man attack was appreciated by all the 2200 spectators and it gave partisan pleasure to at least half the crowd. While this may be Glamorgan's home game, the delightful Penrhyn Avenue ground is only an hour and a half's drive from Formby's birthplace in Wigan; it is far easier to get to for most local Lancashire supporters than it is for the Glamorgan followers living in the valleys, where some rather different singing goes on.
The red rose was, therefore, as well represented as the daffodil in the throngs enjoying their burgers and pints on the popular side. There were plenty of Lancastrians, too, on the attractively-tiered green slope. Indeed, some might argue that this outground is the envy of millions of people in the Western economies at the moment: they have a bank which is conveniently situated and it makes them money.
They may have applauded even more loudly had their team been steered to prosperity by two batsmen whose development had taken place in Lancashire but they are also aware that they lead Glamorgan by 47 points, albeit having played a game more. Should Lancashire win here, promotion will soon be a matter of quite simple arithmetic.
The truth, however, is that neither side should lose this game, for it is being played on a wicket as flat as the most avaricious batsman could desire. Add to that, short boundaries and a fast outfield and you have the sort of conditions ripe for plunder and record-breaking.
Neither Petersen nor Prince passed up the opportunity to boost their already healthy averages. One therefore had to be careful not to be sucked into a swamp of statistics by the sort of cricket that sends Opta men into numbers nirvana; much better, surely, to select the most significant records that were broken.
Let it be noted, therefore that when Prince and Petersen returned to a standing ovation from the members in the pavilion at close of play, their stand was already a third-wicket record for matches between these sides. The pair had set a comparable record when they put on 258 against Derbyshire at Southport in May but their partnership is also now the second highest third-wicket stand in Lancashire's history. Only Michael Atherton and Neil Fairbrother's 364-run partnership against Surrey in 1990 lies ahead of them.
The stroke-making of both players was close to faultless. They performed with the confidence of batsmen who had absolute trust in the surface on which they were playing. One lost count of the times Prince crunched the ball through midwicket or the occasions on which Petersen drove relatively blameless bowlers through the covers. Boundaries, rather than wickets, came in clumps but by the end of the day, the pair were not sated. There could have few more ominous sights for Glamorgan's bowlers than seeing Petersen pat back Dean Cosker's final over.
Petersen will resume tomorrow on 205 which is only five short of his career-best first-class score; he has already hit 27 fours and a straight six off Cosker which landed in the gardens of one of Penrhyn Avenue's russet-roofed houses. Three Lancashire players were sent to look for the ball for there was little prospect of them having anything else to do.
By contrast, Paul Horton's part in the day was long completed by the time Petersen and Prince came together. The Lancashire opener was trapped leg before in the seventh over by a ball from Michael Hogan which perhaps kept a little low. Horton took his leave with a reproachful glance at the pitch although he had probably changed his opinion by the end of the day.
The rest of the morning was taken up with Karl Brown batting as felicitously as anyone to make his sixth fifty in seven Championship innings. Timing the new ball with seemingly little effort, Brown batted with grace and style but then frustrated his supporters when he was bowled when playing across a straight ball from David Lloyd. Some thought that a Brown century was going to be the main course at Colwyn Bay; instead it was merely the amuse bouche.
As for Glamorgan's bowlers, they did their best on a surface they must have come to loathe. In the 85th over Hogan was driven three times in succession to the extra-cover boundary by Preince; a few minutes later Petersen hit Lloyd for six fours in seven balls.
"Come on Glammy, give us a wicket!" some yelled but it was a voice crying in the wilderness. By that stage Jacques Rudolph's bowlers could have been forgiven for reckoning that they would have been better employed following George Formby's example and cleaning a few windows instead of playing this wretched game.