|Ground:||Old Trafford, Manchester|
|Scorecard:||Lancashire v Worcestershire|
|Event:||LV County Championship 2012|
DateLine: 19th July 2012
Lancashire v Worcestershire, Day 2, at Old Trafford, Manchester
Close of play: Worcestershire 291 and 9/0; Lancashire 162.
This was one of the worst days of Lancashire’s dismal season. Their middle order batting collapsed dismally against an inexperienced Worcestershire bowling attack, and they only just managed to save the follow-on, conceding a lead of 129 runs on the first innings. Their heroes of the day were the unsung spinners, Moeen Ali and Shaaiq Chowdry, who must have thought it was Christmas – or the religious equivalent – as they sliced through the middle of the Lancashire innings. If the weather holds, the more efficient Worcestershire team can be very hopeful of their chances, unless there are more surprises in store.
Play again started half an hour late after overnight rain. It took Worcestershire twelve minutes to decide that the bowler’s run-up at the pavilion end was not to their liking, and another eighteen, during which time they all left the field, for them to inspect it and call upon a disgruntled ground staff to repair the damage, said to be caused by uneven turf which needed to be replaced.
Lancashire had been 13 without loss overnight, and Paul Horton and Steven Moore built on this with some positive batting against the seamers. Again, though, it was the spinners that changed the course of the innings, although Worcestershire’s spin bowlers are not as highly rated as those of Lancashire. Moore has perhaps something to answer for, as his was a soft dismissal that ended an opening partnership of 61; he came down the pitch to Moeen Ali but drove a simple catch to deepish mid-on. He made 26.
The scoring rate slowed right down, and the becalmed Horton (34) was next to go, unwillingly departed lbw playing well forward to Choudhry. The inexperienced left-arm spinner was the better bowler of the two at this stage, finding both turn and bounce from the pitch. At lunch Lancashire were 68 for two, with Karl Brown and Ashwell Prince at the crease.
Worcestershire again broke through after lunch: off the third ball bowled, by Moeen, Prince (1) played forward but edged a catch to the keeper. Brown and Steven Croft struggled for runs, and with the total at 86 Brown (9) snapped, leaping recklessly down the pitch and being stumped as he attempted a wild swing at the ball. Immediately afterwards Croft just failed to run himself out, and looked most unsteady. Worcestershire scented blood and became increasingly animated in the field.
Croft (16) was the next victim, unwisely playing back to a well-pitched delivery from Choudhry that spun sharply and bowled him. Tom Smith struggled to 3 runs off 21 balls before sweeping at Moeen and top-edging a catch backward of square leg. The score was now 113 for six, and Lancashire were crying out for a Ben Smith to come to their rescue. Gary Cross, the last major batsman in the team, was not the man to do it today, as with 16 to his credit he pushed a leg-side delivery from Moeen weakly to short leg. Two balls later, Ajmal Shahzad (0) followed the same way, equally feebly. Glen Chapple (5) made it three almost identical dismissals in a row, although the favoured fielder, Matthew Pardoe, had to dive to collect this one; for Pardoe and Moin, it was three wickets in six deliveries.
The meek surrender was finally resisted by Kyle Hogg and Simon Kerrigan, who decided attack was the best form of defence, and Kerrigan swung a ball from Moeen over cow corner for six. From 119 for nine, Lancashire had looked doomed to follow on, had Worcestershire decided to take that option. But this last pair showed the fighting spirit that had been so dismally lacking from the middle order and, against a backdrop of approaching rain, took their team past their immediate target of 142 in next to no time. By the time the rain finally arrived, they had taken the total to 154 and were still going strong. An early tea was taken.
The bulk of the rain uncharacteristically bypassed Old Trafford and play resumed at four o’clock. The two heroes carried the total to 162 before Kerrigan, with 20, rather spoiled things with a crude slog across the line, to be bowled by Chowdhry. Hogg was unbeaten with 27, and their partnership of 43 was easily second only to the opening partnership in the Lancashire innings. The bad news was that the deficit was 129, and Lancashire would have to bat last. Moeen took six wickets for 67 with his off-breaks, and Chowdhry four for 38. These were new career-best figures for both bowlers; they did bowl well, but the appalling Lancashire middle-order batting flattered them.
Worcestershire came in to add to their perhaps unexpected lead, but were on 9 in the fourth over when rain returned, lightly. The dim, dull weather continued even after the rain stopped and ended play for the day.