|Scorecard:||Lancashire v Glamorgan|
|Event:||LV County Championship 2013|
DateLine: 17th July 2013
John Ward at Old Trafford, Day 3
Close of play: Glamorgan (474) v Lancashire (423/5).
It was a beautiful warm sunny day for cricket at Old Trafford, which was just as well, as the crowd had therefore pleasant conditions while they watched a match apparently heading towards a dull draw on a featherbed pitch that was nonetheless not easy to score quickly on. It would have been a turgid day’s play had it not been lit up by a shining light called Ashwell Prince. While the other Lancashire players generally set their sights on a drawn match and fatter batting averages, Prince alone took the attack to the bowlers and made something memorable out of the day, a diamond among the dross – a Princely innings indeed.
Overnight Lancashire was well set on 93 without loss, Karl Brown on 48 and Luis Reece on 42. 28 minutes later the score had raced on to 96, none of them to Brown, at which point Reece cut the first boundary of the day. The bowlers John Glover and Graham Wagg did a good job, but the batsmen were extremely cautious. Brown still had not added to his 48 when, after 32 minutes’ play and with the score on 99, he finally tried to force a ball from Wagg away on the off side but only succeeded in chopping it on to his stumps.
This changed with the arrival of Prince at the wicket, for he immediately made batting look easy. He drove Wagg straight for a superbly timed four, and indeed his classic driving was the abiding memory of his innings. At the other end Reece after 49 minutes reached his first fifty for Lancashire, which took him 150 balls. When Dean Cosker came on to bowl, Prince drove him for a straight six, but the bowler soon trapped Reece lbw for 53, making the score 123 for two. Reece had never looked comfortable on the second morning.
Simon Katich made a very dogged start to his innings while Prince continued to thrive, reaching his fifty off only 57 balls. He did not always find timing easy on this pitch, but he did not let it inhibit him. When lunch came at 172 for two, Prince had scored 51 out of the 79 made during the morning session, while Katich was by now getting in gear with 17. Cosker had bowled well and Wagg was the most impressive of the seamers, but the pitch was too slow and placid to give them the assistance they needed.
The partnership flourished, and was eventually to bring 157 runs off 42 overs. Katich went to his fifty off 118 balls; in contrast, Prince needed only five more to bring up his superb century, with another six off Cosker. Bland the pitch may have been, but it still took class to score a century at a rate twice that of any other batsman on the side. He did not last much longer, though, being well held by the wicketkeeper Mark Wallace down the leg side as he glanced a ball from Nathan McCullum. His 113 came off 132 balls, contained 14 fours and two sixes, and lit up the game for a moderate crowd of perhaps three hundred spectators. At the age of 35 he remains a batsman of true class who would walk into most Test teams in the world, but unfortunately for him the great current strength of South African cricket brought his international career to a premature end.
Andrea Agathangelou, another from South Africa, joined Katich and the two batted quite enterprisingly until tea, when the score was 305 for three. There was an interesting conundrum: tea was taken twenty-five minutes late, and yet the rate officially given was “plus one”! The scorers explained that there had been a good over rate on the previous evening, and then reeled off a list of allowances the fielding side is entitled to, including those for extended drinks intervals, fall of wickets (only three) and lost balls (no long delays this day). It all seems designed to give every excuse to teams that fail to maintain the reasonable supposedly required run rate of sixteen an hour.
After tea, Agathangelou (18) was the next to go, superbly caught low down and left-handed by Jim Allenby at slip off McCullum; 316 for four. Katich, who had survived a difficult chance in the twenties, continued to grind out the runs, and on 79 also survived a loud appeal for a catch at the wicket, although he may well have just hit the ground. He continued to apply himself, reaching his century off 217 balls, an admirable innings in its way, in quantity the equal of Prince’s innings, but in aesthetic quality there was no comparison.
At the other end Luke Procter was batting well and another partnership was building, as Katich now began to play his strokes more freely. He did match Prince in one respect, which was the manner of his dismissal: he too was caught by the keeper down the leg side when Wagg had switched from seam to left-arm spin. His 115 had taken 237 balls and contained 12 fours, and Lancashire was now 406 for five wickets.
Soon afterwards, Procter reached his fifty, off 78 balls, a good positive innings. He was there with 53 at the close, and Gareth Cross on 10; Lancashire were still 51 runs behind Glamorgan with five wickets in hand; fifteen wickets only had fallen in three days’ play.
A result is still possible in this match, but it would require either a farcical set-up or some dismal batting by Glamorgan on the final day for this to happen; they themselves can scarcely win the match now under normal circumstances. Perhaps the appearance of a pitch inspector, even if he applied no penalty this time, though, might encourage counties to prepare better pitches than this one, as it has done little good to anybody, or to four-day cricket.
(Article: Copyright © 2013 John Ward)