Glamorgan 110 for 4 (Anderson 3-28) trail Lancashire 123 (Glover 3-29, Hogan 3-31) by 13 runs
The annual consensus about Division Two of the County Championship is that it is composed of four or five teams capable of winning promotion and a similar number who make up the numbers. Glamorgan are frequently placed in the second group and most pre-season tipsters identified Lancashire as an outfit likely to be bidding for a swift return to Division One.
Such predictions were made to look rather daft for much of this blissful spring day at Rhos-on-Sea, where the May blossom on the tiered embankment, the smiles on the faces of the club officials and the quality of the bowling more than made up for scoreboard malfunctions and technical glitches.
And by the end of May 1, traditionally a socialist holiday, it was the Glamorgan workers who could look back on their labours with just slightly greater pleasure. Having striven hard to bowl Lancashire out for 123, they were handily placed on 110 for 4, a deficit of 13 runs.
It is nothing like a winning position, but for Mark Wallace and his players it will do very nicely, despite the late departure of Marcus North, lbw on the front foot to Jimmy Anderson for 22 immediately after he had been switched to the Penrhyn Avenue End of this proud, well-appointed ground. That left Anderson with 3 for 28 from 15 overs, figures to reassure Andy Flower that his spearhead is near his finest fettle. If he hits his straps on Thursday, Glamorgan's advantage could be slender or nothing at all.
"May called to the year to come dancing" wrote the poet and Anglican priest R S Thomas, a resident of the Lleyn peninsula, in Runes, and it was Glamorgan's bowlers who showed the slickest moves having lost the toss on the first morning of this match.
Lancashire's travails began as early as the second delivery of the day when Paul Horton left a ball from Michael Hogan which clipped his off stump. This misjudgement rather set the tone for an innings conspicuous for its absence of solidity or control. Glamorgan's bowlers, by contrast, always seemed to know their business: it was to stick to the game's timeless verities and let any early moisture or movement from a well-grassed pitch confound the batsmen.
It worked. The rangy Hogan followed up the wicket of Horton with the scalp of Karl Brown who played a copybook front foot drive but neglected to hit the ball with the bat, something of a weakness, he will probably admit. Luke Procter and Ashwell Prince then added 40 in 15 overs but this brief period of reconstruction was followed by major subsidence as both batsmen fell lbw, Procter to Jim Allenby for 26, Prince to Mike Reed for 19, in the space of seven balls. When Steven Croft slapped a short ball from Reed high but within reach of the leaping Murray Goodwin at midwicket, Lancashire were 66 for 5 and the travelling supporters were well into their pre-prandial grumbling.
Things descended from the poor to the abysmal in the hour after lunch as Glen Chapple's side lost 4 for 7 in 27 balls. Allenby deserves plenty of credit for the delivery which moved off the pitch to claim Katich's wicket but other batsmen - Cross and Chapple maybe - were complicit in their own downfalls. A last wicket partnership of 20 between Anderson and Simon Kerrigan took the total to 123 but no one was claiming that this was anything like adequate. The attraction then lay in seeing what Anderson et al would make of the same pitch and the same atmospheric conditions.
At first they made not too much of them. True, Ben Wright gloved a vicious lifter from Anderson to Cross just after tea and Stewart Walters lost his off stump, but there was never the sense of incipient crisis that had existed in the Lancashire innings. The determined Will Bragg and the more expansive Marcus North had taken the score to 82 before Bragg, aiming to play to leg, was lbw to Simon Kerrigan's fourth ball. That brought Murray Goodwin to the crease and his battle with Anderson on the second morning may do much to determine the architecture of this engrossing contest.