Jordan Clark kept Lancashire on course for their third win in three, as they claimed a narrow advantage over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road. After putting the home side in, the Red Rose eventually saw reward as the home side finished on 198 for 6 on Day One of their LV= County Championship match
What condensed action between last season’s relegated counties from Division One took place was to begin at 2.30, with Northamptonshire without vice-captain David Willey who looks set to make his senior England debut in Friday’s one-day international against Ireland in Dublin. Steven Crook - who played alongside some of Lancashire’s biggest names in the mid-2000s a survivor of the Red Rose’s 2004 run to t20 Finals day - took his place.
The decision to bowl first by Steven Croft produced a hint of reward when Peter Siddle’s second over removed Richard Levi - stand-in captain Steven Croft taking the catch at second slip, despite a juggle.
But after the breakthrough, an unchanged Lancashire were too short, with both Siddle and 20 year-old Tom Bailey at fault. Northamptonshire’s opening 50 included eight boundaries with Peters dominant through the point area. The 36 year-old reached a second successive 50 off 68 balls, but such was the generosity of the bowling, that Northants reached their 100 in the 22nd over thanks to 85 in 3s and boundaries.
When Northants captain Alex Wakely brought up the 100 partnership two balls before tea, his side had dominated the session to reach 115 for 1.
If Ashley Giles was brought in as Lancashire director of cricket for moments like this, then it may be an inspired recruitment. After presumably strong words in the changing room, Clark was brought on to bowl into the wind from the Pavilion End.
While the Cumbrian in just his second first-class match may have been seen as support for Siddle, it was the 24 year-old who delivered the breakthrough with Peters caught by Croft in at slip in his first over after tea. Six overs later, he squared up Rob Newton who offered wicketkeeper Alex Davies his first of four catches, while in the next over Wakely fell for 52 to Siddle - his first half-century since missing the whole of 2014 with a ruptured Achilles.
Adam Rossington and Rob Keogh counter-attacked with a partnership of 47, with Rossington signed permanently from Middlesex in the winter, keen to get on the front foot and drive Clark through the covers. He remained 33 not out at the close, but not before Division Two’s top wicket taker Kyle Jarvis replaced Siddle to remove Keogh and Cobb in successive deliveries in fading light.
Frustratingly for the Northamptonshire players, umpires Paul Baldwin and Martin Saggers took the players off for bad light just ten balls later. It leaves them marginally behind after a truncated if thrilling day’s cricket, in which 45.4 overs were lost in all to the elements.