Lancashire 297 for 7 (Clark 79, Chanderpaul 58, S Cook 3-65) vs Essex
Sometimes there is no substitute for patience and sometimes even patience naught availeth. Spectators at Emirates Old Trafford found both these axioms neatly illustrated on the opening day of this game.
The first was most plainly shown by Shivnarine Chanderpaul, a batsman for whom waiting is the rock upon which a great career has been built. Coming to the wicket just after midday, when Lancashire were 28 for three, Chanderpaul was not dismissed until just before five o'clock when he played well inside a ball from Simon Harmer and was bowled for 58. Yet patience was also exhibited rather more subtly by Jordan Clark, whose 79 was just about the centrepiece of a day the Essex seamers had threatened to dominate utterly. That Lancashire eventually reached 297 for 9, thanks late in the day to Tom Bailey and Graham Onions' merry biffing, was mainly a consequence of Clark and Chanderpaul's 131-run sixth-wicket stand.
Clark has followed Kipling's precept: he has not been tired by waiting. Though a formidable hitter and a useful seamer, he has suffered from being labelled a bits and pieces player, a cricketer more suited to immediate needs of the limited-overs game. He did not make his first-class debut until 2015, when he was already 24 years old. This season, however, Clark has been a first-team regular and this was his third score in excess of fifty in eight Championship innings. He drove and pulled the ball very cleanly and very hard indeed. And having levied four fours from his first 14 balls, he was patient enough to hit only six more off his next 98 deliveries before he played on when trying to cut Harmer.
All the same, this may yet be seen as a decent day for Essex. Nine balls after lunch, when Dane Vilas was lbw for 10 to a ball from Sam Cook which came back a little, Lancashire were 59 for 5 with the best of their batting gone. There were, it should be said, extenuating factors for this subsidence: a cloudy atmosphere and a ball which swung quite prodigiously were two of them. Yet Ryan ten Doeschate's bowlers made the most of these advantages in a manner which recalled their title triumph and also justified their captain's decision to dispense with the toss. As early as the third over Alex Davies drove at Jamie Porter and the edge disappeared into Harmer's huge hands at slip.
Keaton Jennings and Haseeb Hameed then resisted the swinging ball very competently for nearly an hour until they fell in successive overs. After hitting three crisp boundaries, Jennings failed to get over a ball from Porter and was taken in the gully by Dan Lawrence. Hameed faced 38 balls and left most of them alone. The majority of the rest were defended in a style copied from the MCC coaching book. Only Neil Wagner disturbed Hameed's serenity, firstly with a bouncer which required avoidance, then with a half-volley which was cover-driven for four, and fatally with a well-directed short ball which the batsman gloved to Adam Wheater. These are tough days for Hameed, one of the most patient young cricketers in England. His innings against Essex reduced his Championship batting average this season from 5.83 to 5.71.
Liam Livingstone was more culpable than the top order. Two flashes to the boundary were followed by a crooked fence and Harmer's mitts ensured Cook collected the second of his three wickets. Chanderpaul and Vilas shepherded Lancashire to lunch by which time 170 balls had been bowled and 146 had produced nothing more than dots in the scorebook. It was all in the sharpest of contrasts to Bailey and Onions' 52-run stand for the ninth-wicket in little more than six overs, the new ball rippling off the bat in the evening light.