Result: Lancashire CCC 268 & 179-3 BEAT Surrey CCC 201-8d & 242 by 7 wickets (County Championship Division 1)
Venue: Old Trafford (25-28 September 2017, 10.30am)
Att: A few thousand over the four days
With me having neglected blogging a visit to Old Trafford previously and with yet another cricket season about to come to a close, I figured the final game of this 2017 season would be high time to get this done. Also, with the Red Rose welcoming Surrey to OT in a straight fight for the runners-up spot in Division 1, there was some pretty high stakes (and cash) on the line. Before getting into the game, here’s the story of Lancashire County Cricket Club:
(A Brief) History Lesson:
Lancashire County Cricket Club was founded in 1864 as a successor to “important match” club Manchester Cricket Club (1816-1864). Manchester played against Sheffield in the first recorded “Roses” game, with the two clubs competing as Lancashire & Yorkshire respectively. We won’t mention who won here. The club competed against similar clubs named Nottingham, Surrey & Sussex, as well as the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club), still headquartered at Lord’s. After playing at grounds on Moss Lane, the Manchester Botanical Gardens and the G.P. Codie’s Ground in Eccles, the club left the Gardens in 1856 – due to it being bought to be part of an art exhibition – and now called Old Trafford their home. 1864 saw Manchester superseded by the county club and cease to have “important” status in its own right, Lancashire CCC instead being that status.
LCCC played their first first-class game the following year against Middlesex at Old Trafford and have so far recorded nine Championship titles (one shared), five 40-over cup wins, 11 50/55 over competition wins (including the B&H Trophy) and a sole T20 Cup triumph. They’ve played at Old Trafford since their inception and became an ‘official’ first-class side in 1895. The club was “unofficial” County Champions four times (three shared) between 1879 & ’89 (their only outright win coming in 1881) and took part in the first official Championship season in 1890, when champions were now decided by points, not the press. Seriously!
1895 saw the current pavilion constructed and Archie McLaren made 424 in one innings for Lancs which remains the highest-score by an Englishman in first-class cricket. Meanwhile Johnny Briggs – whose career spanned 1879 to 1900 – became the first Lancashire player to achieve the feat of 10,000 career runs, along with 1,000 wickets. Ernest Tyldesley is the club’s leading run-scorer with 34,222 runs over 573 matches, with legendary fast bowler Brian Statham (who has his own end and road named after him at the ground) having the most wickets at 1,816 in 430 games between 1950 & 1968. Incidentally, Alex Davies became the first ever Lancashire wicket-keeper to make 1,000 runs in a season in this very blog match, during his first-innings 54.
The club won their first two “official” titles in 1897 & 1904. Between 1926 & 1934, the Red Rose added a further five titles (’26, ’27, ’28, ’30 & ’34) and shared the Championship with Surrey in 1950. Cyril Washbrook would become the club’s first professional captain four years later, but the title wouldn’t arrive at OT again for another seventy-seven years. However, the side of the late ’60’s and 70’s became a highly successful one-day outfit, featuring skipper Jack Bond alongside the likes of Clive Lloyd. They won the Sunday League in ’69 & ’70, and the One-Day Cup four times in six seasons between 1970 & 1975 (’70, ’71, 72′ 75). This one-day format success would continue into the 1980’s, with the B&H Cup won for the first time in 1984, the 1988 Refuge Cup and a third Sunday League in 1989, before more triumphs would follow in the ’90’s, the likes of Graeme Fowler, Patrick Patterson, Wasim Akram and Paul Allott proving a pivotal part of the side around these times.
Four further B&H wins between 1990 & ’98 (’90, ’95, ’96 & ’98) were joined by more 40-over silverware in 1998 & ’99 as Michael Atherton, Glen Chapple, Warren Hegg and Andrew Flintoff came to the forefront of the side, along with the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan wearing the shirt. A Division Two 40-over win in 2003 would later also follow as James Anderson (who has the other end at the ground now named after himself) and Stuart Law replaced stalwarts such as Neil Fairbrother, Graham Lloyd and Ian Austin.
After Championship restructuring for the Millennium, Lancashire were placed in the First Division and have remained there for all but three seasons (2005, 2012 & 2014), with each Second Division spell lasting just one season each.. This era saw Gary Keedy, Mal Loye and Mark Chilton form the remainder of the team’s spine, with Carl Hooper and Dominic Cork adding to the side. The title win of 2011, which ended the 77-year wait, saw the breakthrough years of the longer-serving Kyle Hogg and up-and-comer Simon Kerrigan, Steven Croft hitting the winning runs at Taunton, as Lancashire beat Somerset to take the title, despite playing the majority of the season at Liverpool, with OT being redeveloped as a Test Match venue.
They’d go on to win the 2013 Division 2 title, the first time the club had won it, having been promoted as runners-up on the previous two occasions. The last silverware to arrive at Old Trafford came in 2015, in the form of the T20 Cup. Last season saw Lancs staving off relegation successfully on the last day, along with a number of other clubs.
After missing the first day due to prior commitments, I arrived bright and early at 10.30am for the start of Day 2. The game had already moved on at pace, with the visitors, after losing the toss, calling their batsmen in on 201-8, in what some have termed an “unsporting” declaration, in that this denied Lancs a further bowling point in their quest to upstage the visitors in the table. Sam Curran was top-scorer with an important unbeaten 56. Lancashire then survived the remainder of the opening day to end up on 17-0 heading into the second morning, with ‘keeper-batsman Alex Davies and Rob Jones having their respective wickets intact.
The weather began warmly enough and with a slight breeze, with Davies and Jones continuing on fairly comfortably. Davies was by far the more aggressive of the pair, heading on past his half-century whilst the watchful Jones remained in single figures for most of the morning. Jones would eventually become the first wicket of Day 2, edging to Scott Borthwick in the slips off Rikki Clarke.
This wicket would signal an alarming collapse within the Lancashire top-order, with Liam Livingstone (one) lasting just a few frenetic balls before being trapped in front by Surrey skipper Gareth Batty’s off-spin. He would be followed into the pavilion by Davies (54), who became Clarke’s second victim when clipping to mid-wicket and the veteran West Indian Shiv Chanderpaul (one), lbw to Clarke. From 69-0, Lancashire were now 75-4.
The carnage didn’t stop there, South African Dane Vilas (two) also going leg-before to Batty with the last ball before lunch to leave the home side on 75-4 and in some disarray. You could argue the break came at just the wrong time for Surrey, who would have fancied their chances of cranking up the pressure and running through the remainder of the lower-order. As it was, they have to head in for something to eat, and I joined them, heading to the pavilion for some chips, peas and gravy, for the decently priced £2.60. Not too shabby. As I exited to take a pic of the old bell at the pavilion, the guy guarding the door kindly offered to take my picture with it instead. Cheers!
With lunch finished up and out of the way, I made my way round to the second of the two-tiered stands to continue my lap of the ground. I would end up watching the majority of the session from here in the company of Wrexham native Mike. On the field, a rebuilding job was ongoing with skipper Steven Croft and former Proteas Test all-rounder Ryan McLaren beginning the recovery. Alas, McLaren (16) would fall soon after they passed the 50-partnership, Batty with another wicket in the same fashion as his previous two.
This would bring Tom Bailey to the crease and he proved a fine foil for Croft, the pair playing themselves into some form with the bat, Croft especially so, considering his struggles with the red-ball this summer. The captain was proving his worth here though, taking a liking to Stuart Meaker’s (0-42 from six) pace especially. Croft passed his half-century mid-way through the afternoon, before Bailey (31) would go in strange fashion, lobbing the ball up pretty much nowhere, with it landing in the hands of Pope to give Scott Borthwick’s leg-spin a wicket.
Following the tea break, Croft would go on to notch his century, his first of the Championship season, and advanced Lancashire beyond 250, before he’d eventually fall to the first delivery with the new ball, strangling one through to Ben Foakes off Tom Curran for an eventual 115. A fine knock.
The innings soon subsided following his wicket, Stephen Parry (20) and Saqib Mahmood (nought) both nicking to slip off Jade Dernbach, leaving Matt Parkinson unbeaten on five. Surrey would go on to pretty easily see out the remainder of the day thanks to some wayward bowling, England opener Mark Stoneman being aggressive in doing so.
I returned for a few hours over Day 3, with Richard, a Lancs member I know well. Watching on, it soon became apparent that the similarities between this and the previous day were very apparent and strange. An easy-seeming opening hour for Stoneman and Rory Burns soon gave way to late-morning mayhem. Surrey would go on to repeat the Lancashire collapse from Day 2, with Stoneman falling two short of his century, nicking to slip off the part-time spin of Liam Livingstone. Livingstone would soon put the “part-time” description of his bowling in unquestionable doubt by going on a destructive spree through the visitors’ middle order.
After Parry had Burns lbw for 45 swiftly after Stoneman had returned to the pavilion, the Surrey middle-order followed. Following the arrival of Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara for his final first-class innings, Borthwick (four) was the next to fall, snaffled at slip by Vilas off Livingstone, before Foakes celebrated his England Ashes call-up with a golden duck, becoming Livingstone’s third victim. The spinner continued on, taking the scalp of Pope (3) who smashed one high out to Mahmood at deep square leg before adding the wicket of the dangerous Rikki Clarke (13), leg-before to the last ball of the session to end up with his first career 5-for. Parry also took the wicket of Curran (nought) – clean bowled attempting a big drive – between these. From being 154 without loss, Surrey now found themselves 197-7. Crazy.
Following the lunch break, it was a return round to the two-tiered stand from the previous day, where we’d go on to witness a slight fight-back from Gareth Batty (33) and Sangakkara (35*) snuffed out thanks to the over confidence of the former. Having just smashed Livingstone for a six towards a small band of away fans, Batty decided to repeat the trick, only to spoon it straight up, where the bowler took a return catch to secure eventual figures of 6-52 from 18 overs. Parry soon cleaned up the tail, taking both Meaker (bowled) and Dernbach (lbw) without scoring to end the Surrey second innings on 242 and Sangakkara, somewhat fittingly was unbeaten to end his longer-format career.
That would prove my cue to leave, with Lancashire needing 175 for victory. I reckoned they wouldn’t manage it in the day, though they would go on to give a real fist of it, with only bad-light and latterly rain denying them a likely three-day triumph. By the end of the third day, the Red Rose county would require a further forty-four on the final day, with seven wickets remaining. Those to fall in the meantime were Alex Davies (30), trapped lbw by Clarke after a solid 40-run opening stand with Jones, before Jones himself was out after tea, caught by Meaker off Batty for 35. Croft would be the other wicket to fall, the ball ricocheting off his elbow and onto the stumps off Clarke to send him on his way for nought, but Livingstone and Chanderpaul would see Lancs safely to the close.
I decided to return for the short final day (all five overs or so), again joining Richard but this time sitting in front of the members pavilion and being a bit posher(!). With the aggressive Livingstone passing fifty, you felt he’d knock off the runs in double-quick fashion. But it was the usually stoic Windies legend Chanderpaul who’d go on to show off his hitting skill, cracking two quick sixes off Borthwick, before bringing the scores level and smashing the same bowler for a final four to end the game and secure Lancashire the second position behind runaway winners Essex. Surrey ended up in P3.
That’s that for another season of the leather and willow. May should see the hibernation of this section of the blog come to an end but, for now, it’s time for the football to take on undivided attention. It was good to see Sangakkara bow out and see Lancs win in my first visit of the season for Championship cricket (though I had seen their Second XI game at Urmston where I met my cricketing hero Shiv!). The real stuff. For those of you who don’t care for that, here’s to May!
Value For Money: 9