Handscomb leaves his mark on Roses draw

Yorkshire 448 for 8 dec (Leaning 118, Brooks 109*, Bailey 4-116) and 177 for 1 dec (Handscomb 101*) drew with Lancashire 432 (Chanderpaul 106, McLaren 84, Kerrigan 59)

It was 11.37am when it became all but certain that the 270th Roses match would end in a draw. The four leg-byes gained at that time when Stephen Parry deflected a ball from Ryan Sidebottom to the fine-leg boundary saved the follow-on and left Yorkshire with little more ahead of them than the capture of four Lancashire wickets and some useful batting practice. Parry's kick also meant that Lancashire would take one more point from the drawn game than their opponents, which must have seemed slightly odd to Gary Ballance's players given that they had controlled long stretches of the match.

So we were left with the prospect of statistics and spectacle, although the former often brings with it the opportunity for personal achievement. And no batsman took that opportunity with greater felicity than Yorkshire's Peter Handscomb, whose unbeaten 101 off 77 balls was full of elegance and included the graceful destruction of Simon Kerrigan. The slow left-armer began his spell with a maiden and the wicket of Adam Lyth, who was bowled round his legs, but then conceded 65 runs off his next seven overs.

Such minor victories count for something, especially given that the next Roses match begins at Headingley in ten days' time. Quite why these games, which used to be played in May and August, have become back-to-back occasions is unclear. One suspects it has something to do with logistics and perhaps there are good reasons behind it. All the same, one sometimes has the feeling that cricket is pawning its Paul de Lamerie salvers and buying pewter trinkets with the proceeds.

There was, though, little doubt about the provenance or pedigree of Handscomb's innings. His cover-driving was a particular joy and he, unlike Lyth, can go into Yorkshire's next match in prime form. Much of the power of Handscomb's strokeplay came from nothing more than timing but he still reached his fifty off 34 balls and his century in the final over before the draw was agreed. He and Alex Lees put on 153 in 27 overs and they did so with increasing comfort against an attack dominated by spinners.

But Lancashire's lower-order batsmen had also had the chance to score good runs earlier in the day and most did so. However, instead of making his maiden first-class half-century Parry gave a bat-and-pad catch to Jack Leaning off Azeem Rafiq when he had made 39; and the same bowler lured Ryan McLaren into attempting a reverse sweep on 84 only to lob a catch to Andy Hodd. One doubts that McLaren was greatly exercised by his error; he already has the air of a man who takes wickets and scores runs when his side really needs them.

However, Lancashire's tail was still in no mood to droop forlornly. Tom Bailey and Kerrigan batted confidently on the easy-paced pitch and had added 57 for the ninth wicket in 12 overs when Tim Bresnan had Bailey lbw for 40 eight balls after lunch. Still there was time for Kerrigan to reach the second half-century of his career and to do so in the company of James Anderson, whose groin injury did not prevent him batting with a runner. Kerrigan showed his appreciation for Anderson's appearance by concocting two pleasing cuts to the third-man boundary before he lost his middle-stump to Bresnan when trying to slog the ball to Eccles.

The obstinacy of Lancashire's later batsmen had left Yorkshire with a lead of only 16. That had been extended to 193 when the players shook hands at 4.50pm. The match had never threatened to end in victory for either side but the cricket had never been dull, especially when Handscomb was batting. We were, one supposes, back to William Hazlitt's Indian jugglers and the ineffably childlike mystery which caused us to be entranced by cricket well before we understood what any of it meant.

Yet even as the game drifted to a draw this stadium was being changed. Chairs were being carried hither and thither, barriers were set up and Emirates Old Trafford was being prepared for a concert to be given on the ground in five days' time by a popular music ensemble from Middleton named The Courteeners. This group's LPs include Concrete Love which, given the amount of rebuilding going on at the ground over the last few years, makes them the ideal chaps to regale the Trafford area with their tuneful melodies. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to imagine many of those who watched Lees and Handscomb bat the game out also turning up on Saturday to give it large in the mosh pit. Most of them, one would think, prefer Liam Livingstone to Liam Fray. But one never knows; it is so often the quiet ones who are the worst.

As to the next Roses match, Lancashire will be emboldened by the steel they have shown in their four County Championship matches but one may assume they will be without both Anderson and Kyle Jarvis at Headingley. Yorkshire, of course, will be thirsting for their second victory of the season. Brian Sellers would expect nothing less from them.