Croft holds up Yorkshire's progress
Can a Roses match be won in two and a half days? Yorkshire will be hoping so, after a successful 64 overs in which they look eight wickets, before Steven Croft held them at bay with a fighting unbeaten fifty
Lancashire 204 for 8 (Croft 56*, Rashid 3-84) v Yorkshire
Can a Roses match be won in two and a half days? Yorkshire will be hoping so, after a successful 64 overs in which they look eight wickets, before Steven Croft held them at bay with a fighting unbeaten fifty. Play did not start until well after lunch on the second day of the Old Trafford Roses match following the heavy rain of the first day, despite a sunny morning, so sodden was the field. Even then, the umpires sought the approval of the two captains before agreeing that play should start, as the bowlers' run-ups were not in good condition.
Both teams came into this match straight off disastrous batting performances, but Lancashire took the positive option in deciding to bat on winning the toss. Almost immediately they lost the wicket of Iain Sutcliffe (3), who appeared quite nonplussed by a ball from the purposeful Matthew Hoggard that swung away slightly and removed his off stump. Stuart Law's edged four through the slips to get off the mark did not calm any nerves, either, but he and Paul Horton dug in for a while and appeared to be building a solid stand.
Then it all began to go pear-shaped. Darren Gough brought on his leg-spinner Adil Rashid to bowl the 14th over, within an hour of the start of play. It proved to be an enlightened move: Law on 18 was missed off a hard chance to slip, and then Horton (16) was beaten and trapped lbw on the back foot by a ball that went straight through. Shortly afterwards Law, with 37 to his name, steered a ball from Tim Bresnan to second slip. Lou Vincent, demoted from the opening position, slashed a ball over the slips for four, but this was his only scoring shot. He tried to cut a ball from Bresnan too close to him and was caught at the wicket.
In the meantime, Faf du Plessis was looking better than anybody, and soon after tea impressed with a magnificent straight drive for four off the disappointing Rana Naved. Croft proved a good partner, especially strong on the pull. But, as so often happens with Lancashire, just as a major stand seemed to be brewing, du Plessis drove a ball from Rashid straight to short extra cover and departed for 38.
It looked like a downward slide for Lancashire, as Luke Sutton (9) was caught down the leg side off Hoggard. Glenn Chapple got off the mark by hitting Rashid into the sightscreen for six, followed by a classic four through the covers, but Hoggard then comprehensively bowled him for 11. Dominic Cork, the day after he was told he wouldn't be getting another contract, skied Rashid towards deepish mid-on, where Naved made up for his poor bowling by holding a fine catch, and Lancashire were 165 for 8.
However, Croft found unexpected help from the Gary Keedy and reached his 50 off 106 balls, and was still there with 56 at the close while Keedy had 11. They had blunted the Yorkshire attack with more application than many of the top order and given their side hope again, especially in view of the current brittleness of the Yorkshire batting. But another dismal weather forecast looks likely to scupper everybody's hopes.