Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications
Lancashire 195 for 5 (Davies 73) trail Yorkshire 260 (Lyth 103, Lamb 4-55) by 65 runs
Many words have been used in rich descriptions of Roses matches over the years. "Funky" is not one of them. Perhaps, then, we should not have been surprised in the least when Keaton Jennings and Alex Davies went out to open Lancashire's first innings just before one o'clock on the third day of this game. There had been some absurdly speculative thought that the visitors might seek to revive their chances of reaching the final of the Bob Willis Trophy by forfeiting their first innings, thereby challenging Yorkshire to set up a game on what is likely to be the last day on which cricket can be played in this game. As if. As ruddy if.
Cricketers have little time for tactical gambles based on weather forecasts, however dire the latter may be. Having seen one of the most inexperienced bowling attacks in their history dismiss Yorkshire for 260, Lancashire were content to see if they could pick up the odd batting bonus point while entrusting their tissue-thin chances of finishing top of the North Group to their final game against the leaders, Derbyshire, in a couple of weeks' time. The county's old opener and legendary coach, Harry Makepeace, would be proud. This is a Roses match and it still counts for more than points. The importance of the contest had clearly been plain to Adam Lyth earlier in the day when he reached his fourth first-class hundred against Lancashire and his first in any format since September 2018.
The significance of a contest which is virtually certain to be drawn was also made very plain in the afternoon and evening sessions of this game when the cricket was contested as though the title itself was at stake. Emerald Headingley looked beautiful in the late summer sunlight and Davies made the most of the best batting conditions of the game. He and Jennings put on 104 in 135 minutes during the afternoon with Davies being by far the most fluent of the pair. Indeed he had hit six fours before Jennings managed his first and it was almost expected when the England batsman was leg before wicket for 23 when sweeping at a ball from Lyth.
Jennings' wicket was one of three claimed by Yorkshire bowlers for eight runs either side of tea. Josh Bohannon was taken down the leg side by Jonny Tattersall off Jared Warner for 5 and then Davies was leg before to Steve Patterson for 73 when aiming a vague heave on the leg side. By that stage some were thinking Davies might emulate Lyth's achievement by blessing this day with a century but it was left to Dane Vilas and Rob Jones to halt the advance of Steve Patterson's bowlers with a 65-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Vilas and Jones regularly batted well together last season and the pair appeared set to see out the session. Had they done so, Lancashire might well have collected one of those bonus points they affected not to care about. Instead, the pair fell to successive balls, Vilas being leg before wicket to a delivery from Duanne Olivier which scuttled low into his pad and Jones caught by Tattersall off George Hill when edging a drive.
That gave Hill his maiden first-class wicket and it thereby made this evening session even more memorable. Given that he had seen two slip catches put down by Lyth and Kohler-Cadmore earlier in the afternoon the 19-year-old might have been wondering whether a great moment in his career would arrive this season or next. Now he knows and the applause that greeted the achievement from players and coaches was very warm.
The task of denying Yorkshire a second bowling point fell to Steven Croft and George Balderson and it was fascinating that they seemed to give it a higher priority than pushing on towards 200. Such a resolve may have seemed incomprehensible to anyone not raised on these games, especially so given that Lancashire ended the day just five runs shy of their first batting point. But both Balderson and Hill now know what a Roses match is all about because sweats like Lyth and Croft have shown them.