Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications
Lancashire 100 for 1 (Bohannon 59*, Wells 35*) trail Warwickshire 371 (Benjamin 127, Hain 118, Mahmood 4-77) by 271 runs
Until Josh Bohannon began to bat at Emirates Old Trafford late this afternoon scoring runs had looked a ponderous business. Warwickshire had made 371 in their first innings but it had taken them 139.1 overs, and even their centurions, Chris Benjamin and Sam Hain, had sometimes found it tough to keep their side's total ticking over. There were many periods in the visitors' innings when batting had appeared wreathed in entanglement and complication.
No matter, the travelling supporters thought, when makeshift opener George Balderson was leg before wicket to Liam Norwell for nought in the third over of Lancashire's reply. But five minutes later Bohannon drove Norwell to the cover boundary and eased him through midwicket for three. The tone had been set for a 44-over evening session in which Lancashire would make a hundred runs, 59 of them from the bat of Bohannon, whose nine fours brightened our gloom and made the day memorable.
Three of those boundaries came in the 18th over of the innings when Craig Miles was clipped to the rope at square leg and midwicket before being driven through the covers. In fairness to him, Miles bowls an attacking length but that is a risky business when Bohannon is such rich form. This, after all, was sixth score above fifty in this season's County Championship, an impressive statistic in itself but nothing like as startling as the fact that he has played only 13 innings in 11 matches. Let that be noted when the white-ball obsessives are insisting that we should have less red-ball cricket.
Bohannon is in excellent form: he has already scored 618 first-class runs with an average of 61.8 but cricketers both older and younger than the 24-year-old Boltonian need time and opportunity to polish and perfect their skills over a season in which at least a couple of matches are almost always lost to the weather.
This season's Championship will be decided over the next three weeks or so and this game at Old Trafford between two of the three sides currently leading the early Division One table is poised for an intriguing final couple of days. Rather than simply being reduced to a struggle for bonus points, it has been enlivened by the batting of Bohannon and also by that of Luke Wells, who finished the day on 35 not out after being dropped by Sam Hain at short leg on 18 when he had inside-edged Danny Briggs onto his pad.
Lancashire's positive reply - they were cantering along at nearly three an over before opting to bat for the morrow late in the evening session - was something of a contrast to the first five sessions of the match. But at least a slow Monday had been followed by a sloe Tuesday morning at Old Trafford. Tom Bailey's hopes that Lancashire would go "bang-bang" were fulfilled when he and Saqib Mahmood removed Sam Hain and Will Rhodes inside the first seven overs of play but these successes paled when set beside press-box tales of foraging for elderberries and bullaces at Speke Hall, the Tudor manor house incongruously situated on Merseyside, a few hundred yards from both John Lennon Airport and a housing estate.
Certainly Warwickshire's batsmen did not enjoy such rich pickings once Hain had been trapped on the crease and Rhodes had been beaten by pace and low bounce. Only 21 runs were scored in the first 15 overs of play and this mattered because having begun the day with some prospect of gaining four batting bonus points the visitors failed by two runs to pick up three, a deficiency the significance of which will not be clear for around three weeks. But it all added a dollop of drama to an innings which had occasionally borne a distinct resemblance to one of Ingmar Bergman's broodier efforts.
In truth, though, it was hardly as though Howard Hawks was behind the camera at any stage of the first session. Having limited Lancashire to one bowling point, Michael Burgess and Matt Lamb strove to bat their opponents out of the game, however long that took, and only 58 runs were scored in 32 overs before the lunchtime curry arrived.
The afternoon session began with a touch of Feydeauesque farce when Burgess received a disgusting full toss from Matt Parkinson and, rather in the manner of a Sunday XI slogger, smacked it directly skywards. Wells took the catch at slip and looked embarrassed to have played any role in the affair.
Danny Briggs made 11 before falling to the same combination when reverse sweeping and shortly afterwards Lamb was on the end of a few old-fashioned comments when he decided to change his bat. The theory that he had finally swapped Mogadon for Mjolnir was strengthened when he smacked Parkinson for a six over long-on but the leg spinner bowled him shortly afterwards for a 171-minute 36 with a shortish ball that scuttled on and Mahmood took the last two wickets to finish with 4 for 77. Warwickshire, though, had battled away for a day and a half to make a competitive total and we must wait to see if their patience will aught avail them.
Warwickshire vs Lancashire