|Ground:||Old Trafford, Manchester|
|Scorecard:||Lancashire v Worcestershire|
|Event:||LV County Championship 2012|
DateLine: 18th July 2012
Lancashire v Worcestershire, Day 1, at Old Trafford, Manchester
Close of play: Worcestershire 291; Lancashire 13/0.
This match is being played between two struggling teams who, despite Lancashire's status as reigning champions, are both looking more realistically at survival in the top division rather than championship honours this season. Lancashire took the early honours on a turning pitch, but a superb fighting century by Ben Scott, aided by Matthew Pardoe in a team-saving century partnership for the seventh wicket. This enabled the teams to finish the first day in, as far as can be judged, a fairly even position. But Lancashire have the better spin bowlers.
This is the second county championship match to be played on the 'reborn' Old Trafford ground, which is still very much under construction. The start was delayed by half an hour after a lot of rain over the past day or two, and conditions at the start were cloudy but dry. Worcestershire won the toss and decided to bat.
Worcestershire made a very cautious start on a pitch that offered the bowlers some movement, making just six runs in the first six overs - and this included a wide and an edged four. Kyle Hogg's opening spell read 5-3-2-0, although the batsmen could leave a fair number of his deliveries. Then Phil Hughes, having played himself in, began to open up, leaving his captain Daryl Mitchell still groping for form. Mitchell was particularly uncertain against the left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan, who found considerable turn even before lunch on the first day. Kerrigan soon put an end to Mitchell's misery, having him well caught sharp and low by Tom Smith in the gully; he made 12 off 62 balls and the score was 40 for one.
It was Lancashire's morning, thanks to the last ball before lunch: Hughes unwisely tried to turn a straight ball from the quickish off-spinner Steven Croft and was trapped lbw for 32. Worcestershire therefore went in at the interval with their score at 56 for two.
The first few overs of the afternoon session swung the game strongly Lancashire's way. Croft struck again in successive overs. First Moeen Ali edged a catch to slip for 2, and then Vikram Solanki (15) made a pig's ear of a long hop, slicing a catch to backward point. Worcestershire were reduced to 69 for four. James Cameron played some handsome and powerful drives, but with 18 to his credit he fatally tried to flick a ball from Kerrigan round the corner, and was very well caught by that man Croft at leg slip. Off the very next ball it was the same bowler and same fielder, if a less aggressive stroke, as the new man Gareth Andrew nudged the ball uppishly. Worcestershire were left reeling at 93 for six.
They were indebted to the fighting partnership between Pardoe and Scott. With positive batting the pair took the attack to the troublesome bowlers, with Scott, despite taking his stance well without his crease so that he seemed in imminent danger of hitting his wicket, the more aggressive, strong on the pull and cut. Chapple reverted to his seamers, but to no effect, but when the spinners came on again they slowed the scoring rate very skilfully. Scott reached his fifty just before tea, when the score was 154 for six. It must have been a great relief for him personally as well as his side, as he has had a very poor run in the championship recently.
Pardoe followed Scott to his first fifty of the season after tea; it was not a fluent innings and he reached the landmark with a snick past the slips for four, but it was quite invaluable for his team. Soon afterwards, though, a run-out brought the end of the 127-run partnership for the seventh wicket. Pardoe, on 55, turned a ball behind square leg, where the ubiquitous Croft dived and half-stopped it. Scott called for a quick single, but Pardoe was late responding and just failed to make his ground at the bowler’s end as Croft recovered and returned the ball very well. Worcestershire were now 225 for seven. Lancashire took the second new ball and Chapple trapped Shaaiq Chowdhry lbw for a painful 2 off 33 balls. Scott was now on 93. He reached 99 and had to wait a couple of overs before he could push a quick single on the leg side to reach a most creditable century, which came off 163 balls. His partner, Richard Jones, celebrated on his behalf with a straight six, the first of the day, in the next over. Then he fell lbw to Tom Smith for 15, and finally Scott, trying to drive over the top of the field, was caught at mid-on for a thoroughly deserved 106.
He had led the way in reviving his team to a total of 291 and he faced 170 balls, hitting 11 fours. The last man Alan Richardson was unbeaten on 6. Of the bowlers, Kerrigan had a busy day, bowling 36.1 overs and taking four wickets for 117, while his fellow spinner Croft had three for 64 – not to mention two catches off successive balls and a run-out. With the pitch taking spin, there was some criticism of Lancashire's decision to leave Gary Keedy out of their team.
This left Lancashire with four overs to survive, which Paul Horton and Steve Moore did successfully. They would anticipate that they have little to fear from the Worcestershire spin bowlers, and this may, weather permitting, turn into a rare victory for them. The early weather of the day was overcast at the start, but the sun shone with increasing effect during the afternoon.