Lancashire make encouraging return to top flight

Lancashire 311 for 8 (Livingstone 63*, Davies 55, Ball 3-57, Broad 3-57) lead Nottinghamshire 242 by 69 runs

Stuart Broad tumbles to complete a caught-and-bowled to remove Alviro Petersen © Getty Images

Lancashire’s two previous First Division campaigns included only a scattering of days as encouraging as this one. In 2014, the county secured just four first-innings leads in 16 attempts and an inability to bat long in the first half of matches cost them their status. So the satisfaction gained from the four half-century stands shared by Steven Croft’s batsmen against a Nottinghamshire seam attack which included three international bowlers must be considerable indeed.

No one enjoyed themselves more than Alex Davies, for whom a tough cricket match seems almost a natural environment, and Liam Livingstone, who marked his first-class debut with a composed, unruffled innings of 63 not out. Stuart Broad may have gained a little personal kudos from having his England team-mate James Anderson caught behind for 6 but he found Lancashire’s freshman a far tougher opponent. Livingstone hit Broad for five boundaries and took 25 off the 24 balls he faced from him. He played the ball, not the bowler

Nottinghamshire’s cricketers applied themselves in the best Trent Bridge tradition; Steven Mullaney’s tight eight-over spell after lunch was typical of their approach. But Mick Newell, Peter Moores and their players were left regretting the inability of their batsmen to post a total greater than 242 on a flat pitch where simple application is often all that is required.

All of which offered some sort of warmth to the home fans on a chill Mancunian day when spring was an intermittent visitor and the sun gulled the unwary into venturing out without their coats. The blue skies belied the strength of a bitter westerly wind and the cricketers needed to steel themselves for their task. Bowlers were happy to bowl because it kept them warm; batsmen were content to bat because they could do so in a couple of fleeces; the poor old fielders were left half-hoping that the ball did not come to them. The sanctuary of the dressing-room and the teapot must have been tempting indeed.

Each session followed a roughly similar pattern. The first was characterised by watchful defence in its first hour but a little more aggression in its second. Lancashire added 83 runs in 29 overs, 32 of them scored in the 15 overs before Luke Procter and Haseeb Hameed were dismissed by Harry Gurney and Jake Ball in the space of four balls. A more sprightly 51 were added in the 14 overs faced by Alviro Petersen and Steven Croft. But the difference seemed greater than that. Petersen immediately batted fluently, clipping Gurney twice through the leg side of before driving Ball to the boundary off the back foot.

Nevertheless, a foundation had been laid by Procter, whose only first team appearance in 2015 was a T20 match, and by Hameed, who was playing his first innings at the top level of English cricket. The rhythm of the innings had also been set and it was never lost in the remainder of the day. Although Croft was caught at the wicket by Read off Mullaney for 15, Davies immediately settled to his work and even the loss of Petersen, caught and bowled by Broad off the leading edge for 48, did not disturb him.

Instead Lancashire’s wicketkeeper-batsman shared into a remarkably mature 72-run stand for the sixth wicket with Livingstone and they had taken the score to 228 for 5 before the new ball, which had been taken just after tea, brought Nottinghamshire their best period of the day. Davies was leg before to Ball and Broad then removed both Anderson and Neil Wagner in quick succession. At that point, with more than 22 overs left in the day, it seemed that Nottinghamshire would be batting again on Monday evening, but Kyle Jarvis joined Livingstone in an unbroken 62-run stand for the ninth wicket which extended their side’s lead from the modest through the healthy to the substantial. Jarvis’s unbeaten 36 showed what could be done on this wicket but Read’s batsmen will still have to play well for at least an hour or so before they are in credit.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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