Report: Warwickshire v Lancashire, County Championship
Warwickshire and Lancashire were forced to settle for a draw as rain washed out the final day of their LV=Insurance County Championship at Edgbaston.
The frustration was greater for Lancashire who had taken control of the match on the third day and were waiting to resume their second innings on 182 for six, already 297 ahead.
Persistent rain arrived as forecast, however, so they were denied a chance to push for a victory to crown a strong performance from a reshuffled side showing five changes from the team beaten by Essex at Blackpool the previous week.
Warwickshire were left to digest a slightly disappointing display after the impressive win at Kent a week earlier. They now look ahead to another home game, against Middlesex, starting next Tuesday when they will be without leading seamer Chris Rushworth who suffered a hamstring strain during the Lancashire game.
Although his side has lost ground during this round to Surrey and Essex, who both won, Warwickshire first team coach Mark Robinson regards his team as still very much in the title race.
“With five games to go we are still in contention, absolutely,” he said. “You just have to stay in touch and see where it takes you. Middlesex come to us next week and we will try to beat them and then see where we are.
“Two years ago we won a championship by staying alive and staying in contention and if you do that then suddenly you can get into a position where you can try to win it. That’s what we’ll try to do again this year.
“The weather this week has been unfortunate because the game was set up for a result if we had played today. We would have had a target of some sort and, although it wasn’t the easiest wicket to force the pace on, we would have had a go and tried to win, as we have done all season.
“We probably would have batted first in normal circumstances, but with the forecast for Saturday we all knew it was likely to be a three-day game so we thought bowling first was the best way to get ahead of the game to try to win it in three days. We had them 150 for seven and that was our window but we dropped a catch and Rushy went off and they ended up getting 320 which was probably 70 too many.
“We saw the potential of Mir Hamza. On heavy ground with a lack of match practice, he couldn’t quite get into rhythm in the first innings but, as the game went on, he showed what he can do with that ability to swing the ball both ways.”
Warwickshire and Lancashire head into the last day of their LV=Insurance County Championship match on weather watch.
An incisive burst of spin-bowling followed by patient batting has engineered a strong position for the Red Rose. After bowling the home side out for 212, for a first innings lead of 115, Lancashire closed a rain-shortened third day on 182 for six – 297 ahead as Keaton Jennings constructed an unbeaten 64 (174 balls).
With the grim weather forecast, and the dark clouds ever present at Edgbaston this week, it remains likely that will have the final say in a contest where we all three results are possible.
That would be frustrating for Jennings’ side who finally forced the match forward in its seventh session after the preceding six had advanced at various degrees of slow. After Warwickshire resumed on the third day on 179 for five, the Red Rose deployed their spinners, partly because the light was so poor, and it proved a highly productive move as the last five wickets fell for 29 runs in 88 balls.
The catalyst for the collapse was an indiscrete reverse-sweep by Dan Mousley (47, 97 balls) straight to slip off Jack Morley. The left-arm spinner followed that by having Michael Burgess adjudged caught at leg slip before Luke Wells removed Danny Briggs, caught off the face of the bat at short leg.
Warwickshire squandered their last two wickets as Olly Hannon-Dalby was run out pursuing a single that didn’t exist and Chris Rushworth, batting with a runner due to a hamstring injury, charged at Wells and was stumped by yards. Suddenly, after two finely-balanced days, Lancashire had seized a meaty lead 115.
Batting remained tricky when they went in again and Wells’ hitherto happy morning took a dive when he fell lbw to Hannon-Dalby’s third ball. Josh Bohannon came closest to fluency in a 40-ball 25 which ended when he chipped Hannon-Dalby to substitute fielder Marques Ackerman at mid-wicket but Jennings dropped anchor deep, going into lunch with just a single from 42 balls.
The skipper remained entrenched throughout the afternoon while partners came and went. Phil Salet nicked a pull at Ed Barnard. Daryl Mitchell skied Mir Hamza to give Ackerman his second catch. When George Bell nicked Briggs behind it was 83 for five and Warwickshire, despite the absence of Rushworth, were fighting back hard.
Still the Jennings anchor remained and first innings century-maker George Balderson settled alongside him to reassert the Red Rose. Jennings posted a 163-ball half-century in a partnership of 92 in 26 overs which looked ready to grow much further until Balderson (46, 94 balls) self-destructed. He set off for a single when his drive was parried by bowler Briggs and, rightly sent back by Jennings, was beaten by Sam Hain’s throw from extra cover.
With the lead approaching 300, Lancashire had just started to seek acceleration when rain arrived to lop off the last 20 overs. That lost time, with probably more tomorrow is likely to thwart the Red Rose victory bid.
Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes said: “It would be a shame if the weather spoils this game because it is quite well poised. It’s set up for a great game. I thought the way we fought back this afternoon and evening was fantastic and has given us a good chance of winning if the weather holds.
“We’d absolutely fancy chasing 300. It is a difficult pitch to score quickly on but also a difficult pitch to get people out so if we get all 96 overs in it could be a very interesting day.
“We will look to bat batter than we did in this fixture last year when they showed what was possible when they chased down 320 on a similar sort of wicket.
“When you try to press with the bat on this wicket it can be tough but we will look to go out there with positive intent and look to win the game.”
Captain Will Rhodes’ season-best 82 was the bedrock of the Bears innings on a battling Day Two of his side’s LV=Insurance County Championship match against Lancashire.
Diligence was required throughout from the batters and Rhodes showed plenty of it to compile 82 off 168 balls after Lancashire’s Balderson (116*) crept to his ton having spent 44 balls in the nineties.
With time lost to the weather on Day Two and a forecast suggesting little or no play on Day Four, this match appears set for a draw with batters forced on to the defensive by capable seam bowling.
After resuming on 295 for seven on the second morning, Lancashire lost Tom Bailey (75, 136 balls) to the second ball, lbw to a big inswinger from Hamza Mir. That concluded a partnership of 145 in 45 overs between Bailey and Balderson and when Will Williams quickly fell the same way, Balderson still required five runs for his maiden ton with just last man Jack Morley for company.
Unlike at Lord’s in 1895, when Sammy Woods generously served up a deliberate leg-side full toss so that WG Grace could reach his hundredth hundred, Balderson was made to earn every run towards his milestone before he edged Olly Hannon-Dalby to the third man boundary to cheers from the Red Rose balcony.
Morley stuck around while 30 were added and doubled his previous first class run tally of nine before nicking a slog at Danny Briggs.
In reply, Warwickshire’s openers fell in the first seven overs, both deciding too late to leave the ball as Alex Davies played on to Williams and Rob Yates edged Bailey behind. Rhodes and Sam Hain then added 68 in 28 overs either side of a rain break, Hain arriving into double-figures after 69 balls before falling, strangled down the leg side off Balderson, for 15 off 79.
At 82 for three, further quick wickets would have moved Lancashire into a strong position, but Rhodes and Dan Mousley batted watchfully to add 77 in 22 overs.
Bailey continued his impressive match by trapping Rhodes lbw and Ed Barnard tickled Balderson down the leg side to the keeper but Mousley, after a skittish start, settled to play with an authority of which WG Grace would have been proud to reach the close unbeaten on 45 (92 balls).
Warwickshire Captain Will Rhodes said: “It is quite a slow pitch with a little bit of variable bounce so it was a tough day and tough graft for the batters. They bowled really well all day and were pretty relentless in their lengths and lines. There is not a huge amount of pace in their ranks but what they do have is a lot of accuracy so credit to them for making it such hard work for us.
“I was pleased with the way Dan Mousley and myself combatted that though and we built a foundation for hopefully our lower order to capitalise tomorrow.
“It’s not one of those pitches where you can come out from ball one and start swinging. It’s one where you probably need 20 or 30 balls to get used to the pace of the wicket. There is still a little bit of swing and seam movement out there so it’s hard work and not a typical Edgbaston wicket.
“Tomorrow it’s all about having a good first session. They are probably slightly ahead of the game at the moment but a good first session tomorrow would bring us right back into it.”
Warwickshire and Lancashire is finely poised as the visitors fought back in their LV=Insurance County Championship clash at Edgbaston.
Back in the side in place of the departed Colin de Grandhomme, George Balderson struck a correct and composed unbeaten 94 (202 balls) to lift his side to 295 for seven on the opening day at Edgbaston.
The 22-year-old went in with Lancashire in deep trouble at 91 for five and showed the concentration and shot selection required on a slow pitch which was used for Vitality Blast Finals Day last Saturday.
He received excellent support in the last session from Tom Bailey (a career-best 75 not out, 134 balls) as the eighth-wicket pair added an unbroken 145 against an attack which lacked the sustained incision to press home their early advantage. It was a hard-fought cricket as a pitch which, four days earlier, had delivered 821 runs, 71 fours and 23 sixes, surrendered runs grudgingly as it aged.
The sense of transition surrounding the Lancashire side at the moment was illustrated by five changes from the team beaten by Essex at Blackpool last week. Balderson, Daryl Mitchell, George Bell, Jack Morley and Danny Lamb came in for Colin de Grandhomme Dane Vilas, Rob Jones, Tom Hartley and Jack Blatherwick. Lamb was called up late after Luke Wood and Blatherwick reported injuries in the warm up.
Warwickshire chose to bowl first on the experienced pitch and soon broke through when Luke Wells feathered a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Michael Burgess off Chris Rushworth. Josh Bohannon’s fluent 33 (43 balls), in a stand of 47 with Keaton Jennings, ended with an inside edge to the keeper off Ed Barnard before the pressure increased either side of lunch with the loss of three wickets for 16 runs in 27 balls. Phil Salt dragged on a loose drive at Olly Hannon-Dalby, Jennings edged debutant Mir Hamza to second slip and Bell edged Hannon-Dalby to third.
Mitchell and Balderson added 58 in 19 overs, the former striking Danny Briggs and Rushworth for sixes, before another two wickets fell in eight balls. Mitchell (35, 56) top-edged a sweep at Briggs and Lamb, drawn into playing away from his body, edged Barnard behind.
With Lancashire 150 for seven, the home side looked well-placed to build on last week’s crushing of Kent, which has had some in the West Midlands talking of a surprise title push, but Balderson and Bailey dug in deep. The Red Rose know how to fight back against Warwickshire and the eighth-wicket pair invoked the spirit of Southport, 1982, when the Bears declared their first innings on 523 for four…and lost by ten wickets.
Balderson passed 1,000 first class runs and Bailey surpassed his previous career-best (68) as the new ball failed to inflict damage. Hamza’s first day as a Bear – one for 89 – was one to forget but Balderson’s day was one to remember with pride, especially if he acquires the six runs he requires to complete his maiden century in the morning.
Warwickshire coach Mark Robinson said: “The wicket’s had 120 overs on it already so it’s not like a fresh pitch but if you have them 150 for seven you are disappointed to let them get away again. It wasn’t for lack of effort but the ground is very heavy and I think we died on our feet a little bit and lost Chris Rushworth with the new ball which is a blow. It looks like Chris has done a hammy which needs to be assessed and then we’ll see where he is. It’s our fourth hamstring this year which is obviously a bit frustrating,
“Credit to Balderson and Bailey, they batted very well. We put them both down and they made us pay. They played and missed a lot and didn’t nick it and then when they did nick it we dropped it.
“This is a good little test for us. We are a bowler down and we are in a good, tight game. I think it’s about a 330/340 wicket so let’s try to keep them to that, which would be about par, and see where the games takes us. We haven’t been in this position much this season, we’ve generally been pushing to win games, but this one is 50/50 at the moment.”