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RESULT
Manchester, September 05 - 08, 2022, County Championship Division One
276 & 280/5d
(T:302) 255 & 102/3

Match drawn

Report

Lancashire channel their inner Lightning as Luke Wells onslaught revives Roses prospects

Yorkshire left dazed after brutal evening session sets up intriguing final day

Paul Edwards
Paul Edwards
07-Sep-2022
Luke Wells walks off at the end of his innings, LV= Insurance County Championship, Division One, Northamptonshire vs Hampshire, Northampton, July 21, 2022

Luke Wells walks off at the end of his innings  •  Getty Images

Lancashire 276 and 203 for 3 (Wells 124, Jennings 68) lead Yorkshire 255 (Kohler-Cadmore 51, Bailey 4-56, Parkinson 3-52, Williams 3-64) by 224 runs
Spectators attending the third day of the Roses match at Emirates Old Trafford had two games to watch. The first accorded with the traditional tempi of these contests and saw Yorkshire's last six wickets add 125 runs in 52.3 overs, thereby collecting a second batting bonus point and limiting Lancashire's lead to 21. The play would have been recognisable to Doug Padgett or Ken Grieves, particularly so when Ben Coad and Steve Patterson were taking 128 balls over their 36-run stand for the last wicket. But even in this era of wallop and thrash, no one on the ground complained. This was a version of the game on which most of them had been raised.
Now let us scroll forward to just before 4.30pm on this same extraordinary Wednesday. Many of the crowd who had watched patiently as Yorkshire's later batters ground it out are now standing and applauding Luke Wells, who has just completed the second-fastest century on record in the history of Roses cricket and the third-fastest authentic hundred ever scored by a Lancashire player. Rather than trying to build a lead carefully, he and Keaton Jennings have opted to construct one at lightning speed, putting up a century stand in 86 balls and eventually sharing their second 180-plus stand of the game. And by the time Wells was dismissed, caught by Will Fraine off Dom Bess for an 82-ball 124 containing 11 fours and six sixes, Lancashire's lead was 207 and their chances of embarrassing Yorkshire on the final day of this game had been greatly increased. There was strategy behind the mayhem.
And the home openers' approach had been plain from the 20th ball of the innings, a blameless delivery from Jordan Thompson which Wells drove over long off for six. Two overs later the combative Thompson was shaking his head once more after a shorter ball had been whipped off the opener's hip and deep into the temporary stand. Already it was obvious that neither man gave a fig for Roses orthodoxy nor did Wells care that much who was bowling to him.
In the seventh over Coad was whacked dead straight for six; in the ninth Dom Bess was deposited over long on; in the 14th Patterson was picked up over square leg and into the bucket seats at what was once the Stretford End. The shots were pure and authentic but the approach was pure Vitality Blast, a competition that has extended the boundaries of the possible. And this afternoon the red ball made no difference, neither did the seven deep fielders later posted by Jonny Tattersall. Wells hit the ball between or over them.
Jennings, who has treated Yorkshire's bowling as his plaything over the past three years, chugged along contentedly behind his partner at a fraction less than a run a ball. Having reached his half-century off 29 balls, Wells got to his hundred off 65 and acknowledged the applause that came from most of Old Trafford's stands. Only Ian Austin and Andrew Flintoff, who both made 61-ball hundreds, have got to three figures more quickly.
One sympathised with Tattersall, who is making his first-class debut as Yorkshire's interim skipper, but when bowlers like Coad were being hit for six there was not a great deal the skipper could do except send his fielders out like missionaries to distant corners of the world and wait for salvation. Five overs before the unscheduled close, Wells finally miscued a pull and Fraine took the catch at deep midwicket with all the joy a man might show when receiving a tax return.
"It was obviously good fun," Wells said. "The game and season situation dictated that we needed to do something with the time we had available and dark clouds rolling over. We knew we didn't have much time to force a lead that could give us something to bowl at. I wasn't expecting to score quite that quickly! I just felt in a good groove, got a few out of the middle of the bat, and went with it."
But then, as if to mock our bland assumptions, the day became more bizarre. Tattersall handed over the gloves to Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who immediately stumped Josh Bohannon for five. Then the young Yorkshire skipper put himself on to bowl and had Jennings caught at backward point by Coad, whose trousers fell down. Tattersall said it was a top-spinner and maybe he was right. It was certainly his fifth ball in first-class cricket. But it had become an evening when nothing was surprising, certainly not the bad light and rain that ended our day 16 overs early.

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