Manchester, April 21 - 24, 2022, County Championship Division One
252 & 247

Lancashire won by an innings and 57 runs


Hasan Ali six-for leads Lancashire fightback as James Anderson makes low-key return to fray

Gloucestershire stumble after century stand between opening pair

Paul Edwards
Paul Edwards
Hasan Ali leaves the field after taking six wickets, Lancashire vs Gloucestershire, LV= Insurance Championship, division one, 1st day, Emirates Old Trafford, April 21, 2022

Hasan Ali leaves the field after taking six wickets  •  Getty Images

Lancashire11 for 1 trail Gloucestershire 252 (Harris 67, Dent 52, Higgins 51*, Hasan 6-47) by 241 runs
Old Trafford in April. Glimpsed between the behemothic stands and also in the distance, almost every tree displays the frail effrontery of an English spring. In the foreground, though, yet another new building is under construction, one that will replace the demolished Red Rose suite and obscure the pleasant aspect. Three huge mechanical diggers are clearing the ground; their slow, angular and yet very effective motions remind one rather of the old Kent seamer, Norman Graham.
But another new-ball bowler commands the attention of most on the ground this morning; he is 39 years young, fitter than most butchers' dogs and he is playing his first game since January 9, when he blocked it out for a draw in the Sydney Test. Since then, he has been omitted from England's party for the three-match series in the Caribbean, something that seemed unthinkable until the selectors thought it. All the same, rabbiting about officialdom has never been James Anderson's preferred mode of communication; he reckons his bowling should get the message across. So there is a pleasing frisson of expectation as he marks out his run up at the end named after him on the ground where he first played for Lancashire 20 summers ago…
But cricket is rarely amenable to our expectations; that is one of its charms. And Australian cricketers are particularly ornery in this regard; that is one of their most endearing characteristics. So when it was confirmed that Anderson would be in Lancashire's team against Gloucestershire today, Marcus Harris probably viewed it as just the sort of challenge he liked. It would be stretching things to say that the pair are old foes but Anderson dismissed Harris twice in the recent Ashes series and such things are rarely forgotten by either party. However, Chris Dent is one of the most underrated openers on the circuit and his straight drive off Anderson in the 14th over of the match was a highlight of the morning session in which the Gloucestershire openers scored 101 runs in 30 overs.
Harris's approach was especially refreshing. There were two fine boundaries in a Danny Lamb over and when Dane Vilas brought Matt Parkinson into the attack six overs before lunch, Harris deposited the final ball of his sixth over into the crowd at long-off. And it was a proper crowd, too. A couple of the stands at Emirates Old Trafford are shut to allow building work to take place but the pavilion and other stands were thickly populated. Some spectators will have turned up because it was the first day of the first-class season here; others will also have wanted to attend this evening's AGM. But most of them, including the congenitally discontented, were surely cheered by an afternoon session in which six wickets fell for 69 runs, all of them to Lancashire's pace attack but none of them to Anderson.
That basic statistic illustrates why Vilas's versatile team are one of the favourites to win the Championship this season. Half an hour after lunch Dent felt for a ball pushed across him by Hasan Ali and edged a catch to second slip, where Steven Croft hung on at the second grab. Three overs later Harris was caught down the leg side by Phil Salt off Saqib Mahmood for 67 and five balls later George Balderson wormed one between James Bracey's bat and pad. Having lost three wickets for 14 runs in four overs, Gloucestershire proceeded to lose another three for 17 runs in the next ten, two of them to successive deliveries from Hasan, who is already a popular character in the Lancashire dressing room. Miles Hammond gave him assistance when a crass swish edged a catch to Salt but Tom Lace was undone first up by a ball that tailed in to the pads.
Anderson, meanwhile, after conceding 21 runs, including a wide and four overthrows, off his first seven overs, found his range and leaked only nine more in as many overs to finish with nought from 30 from 16 overs. That might not satisfy a man whose perfectionism explains his success; yet he will probably not mind leaving this evening's major plaudits to Hasan, who completed his first five-wicket return for Lancashire - indeed, he took 6 for 47 - when he dismissed three batsmen in the space of 17 balls late on a long-shadowed evening.
Before that, however, Gloucestershire's total had been hoisted well beyond 200 by a 65-run stand between Ryan Higgins, who invariably does something useful for the county in every game, and Zafar Gohar, who batted sensibly for his 27 runs until he tried to smack Parkinson over the Hilton Garden Hotel and was stumped for 27. This gave Salt his fourth victim of the day and completed another decent day's work for a keeper who had not taken the gloves in a four-day game until last week's match at Canterbury.
Higgins was left unbeaten on 51 when last man Ajeet Singh Dale chipped Hasan to Josh Bohannon but what had been a satisfactory day for Lancashire was spoiled in the final over when Balderson was run out by Gohar's direct hit from square leg. Luke Wells, who had rightly sent his partner back, held his arms out horizontally as though bemoaning the foolishness of youth, even in a glorious springtime.

Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications

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County Championship Division One