Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications
Lancashire 509 for 9 dec (Bohannon 127*, Jennings 114, Lamb 61, Wells 60, Davies 52) beat Yorkshire 159 (Duke 52, Bailey 3-6) and 271 (Brook 52, Mahmood 5-49) by an innings and 79 runs
It is rather too easy when thinking about Roses matches to forget the simple reality of the present. Saqib Mahmood's one thought when he ran in to bowl the balls that dismissed Jordan Thompson and Ben Coad deep on a glorious Sunday evening was to remove the obstacles to his side's victory. He probably had no idea it had been a decade since Lancashire had last won the Roses match and certainly had no clue that it was 49 years since his club had won this match by an innings at Emirates Old Trafford. As for James Heap, who the hell was he?
But a similarly laudable tunnel vision will have informed Matt Parkinson's actions a few moments later when his legspinner was edged by Dom Bess to Liam Livingstone at slip, thus beginning the riotous celebrations that followed one of the great days in the history of this game, a day in which Yorkshire's defiance had played an absolutely essential part and which is now ending peacefully with Lancashire's players and coaching staff lying on the outfield drinking beers. Mahmood will not be drinking alcohol but he will be reflecting contentedly on a day when he had taken his maiden five-wicket haul in a first-class match. Relaxation must be sweet, indeed on such evenings. "It's possibly the best feeling I've had on a cricket field," he had told the press an hour or so earlier.
But this was Yorkshire's day, too, although it will be years before they acknowledge the fact. Six of their batsmen had survived for 99 minutes or longer in their second innings and Bess had batted three hours and 35 minutes for his 46 runs. It is hardly a speculative effort of the imagination to suggest that Lancashire's fielders had reminded him he was no longer in England's Test team. But he had gutsed it out and three overs earlier it had looked as though Old Trafford's sun would shine on his and Yorkshire's righteousness. Then Mahmood, who already had three wickets to his name, snared Thompson, caught behind by Dane Vilas for 14. Next over, an agonised Coad saw Alex Wharf's finger go up, adjudging he, too, had edged the ball to Lancashire's captain. A few minutes later Parkinson bowled to Bess. There were 41 balls left in the match…
By the time there were 40 (or, indeed, none) Parkinson was being engulfed by his colleagues and Yorkshire's last pair were standing in statuesque misery. Fair enough on both counts. The legspinner's three wickets for 61 runs from 41.2 overs had played a vital role in the result. But this was still Mahmood's day. Lancashire's spearhead currently looks like one of the best fast bowlers in the country and he is certainly playing in one of the finest county sides. The in-ducker that removed Will Fraine's middle stump in the fifth over of the morning and the ball that straightened to knock out Steve Patterson's off pole ten minutes later were models of the fast bowler's ferocious art.
But the rest of the morning session was dominated by the quiescent resolution of the two Old Sedberghians, George Hill and Harry Brook, who successfully resisted Lancashire's attack for some 26 overs, albeit Parkinson got nothing like the turn he had enjoyed on Saturday evening. And mention of Hill and Brook's school is neither to extol nor condemn privilege; it merely makes the point that if you learn your cricket on very good pitches and are helped by top-quality coaches, it improves your chances of succeeding in the professional game.
The new ball was needed to separate the pair but it did the trick almost immediately. Vilas wisely chose to take it as soon as it became available and Tom Bailey's third delivery found the narrowest of gaps between Hill's bat and pad. All the same it was nearly an hour later before Parkinson had Brook leg before wicket for 52 when the ball hit him full on the front boot. It had long been clear to Lancashire's bowlers that they would need to take the long route to victory and grab every opportunity that came their way. It seemed particularly galling, therefore, when Livingstone, put down a slip catch off Bess when the Yorkshire allrounder was 17 and there were still 45 overs left in the game.
At the other end was Harry Duke batting as if continuing the innings he played on Thursday: defending the good balls, avoiding the wide ones and not giving a twopenny damn that it took him 39 balls and 49 minutes to score his first run. Whatever else emerges from this match Andrew Gale and the Yorkshire coaches can at least be encouraged with the way Brook and Duke conducted themselves on this final day.
Yorkshire took tea with their score reading 208 for 6 and many thought the balance of the day was shifting in their favour. But nine overs after the resumption Duke made perhaps his first plain error when he let a ball from Luke Wood go and watched in horror as it hit his off stump. Once again the misery of the moment was visited upon a young player; even the memory of his first-innings fifty may have receded. As for the sepia-tinged history of this game, what had that to do with him? And as for James Heap…
In time, perhaps, Duke will come to understand. For the moment he can be assured that he has already honoured his profession.
But you probably need to be one of Old Trafford's kindly old archivists to know much about Heap. He was a Lancashire slow left-armer who took 11 for 39 to help his side beat Yorkshire by an innings and three runs in 1913. On the other hand it requires no more than a passing interest in the Red Rose to be familiar with Jack Simmons, offspinner, folk-hero, trencherman, who bagged 10 for 84 when Lancashire defeated Yorkshire by an innings and 34 in 1972. (Simmons himself may point out that Clive Lloyd's 181 also played a part in the victory.)
Until today, those games in 1913 and 1972 were the only occasions in the last 108 years when Lancashire have beaten Yorkshire by an innings at Old Trafford. Now there is a third match to go with them. Vilas and his players have become history boys, not that such things concern them this evening, for they are still sitting on the outfield, enjoying a beer and chatting quietly. Among them is Bess, recently an opponent but now someone altogether gentler. He is chatting with Mahmood and Parkinson. They have this summer and many more ahead of them.