Wakely frustrated as rain denies Northants win over leaders Lancashire

DISAPPOINTMENT - Northants skipper Alex Wakely
DISAPPOINTMENT - Northants skipper Alex Wakely

Northants skipper Alex Wakely was left to rue the Manchester weather as his team were denied a famous victory over LV= Championship leaders Lancashire at Old Trafford.

The hosts, chasing 414 to win on the final day, were in desperate trouble at 206 for seven when the rain started 20 minutes before the tea interval.

The players were forced to leave the field and were unable to return, leaving Wakely and Northants to wonder what might have been.

Wakely was obviously frustrated, but had no complaints over the handling of the situation by the umpires, and also spoke of his pride in his team’s performance over the four days.

“Ultimately you can’t do anything about the rules and you can’t do anything about the weather,” said Wakely.

“I thought the umpires handled it well at the end because it wasn’t easy.

“We were on top and it would have brilliant for us to win but it wasn’t to be today.

“I am very proud of everyone in the side. From start to finish we played the best cricket and we basically controlled the game.

“We have a very small squad and we need a bit of luck with injuries but at the moment we’re playing some great cricket.

“They played very nicely in the morning session and blunted us pretty well.

“We dropped a catch which was massive and if we had taken that we probably would have won the game. But that’s cricket.”

Lancashire coach Ashley Giles was a relieved man, and admitted ‘we got away with one’

“The rain came at a good time, we got away with that one,” said the former England spinner.

“We can put it down as a blip, but we need to ensure that when we come back on Monday, we put that right.”

At the start of play on the fourth day of this entertaining clash, the league leaders knew they needed to break a 105-year-old record if they were to snatch an unlikely victory over Northants.

The record books revealed that the highest successful fourth-innings run chase by a Lancashire side came in 1910 when they made 404 against Hampshire at Southampton - but Red Rose fans were left dreaming of something special over lunch.

By then, Paul Horton and Karl Brown had made half-centuries with relative ease on a cloudy but humid day in Manchester, which saw the players leave the field 20 minutes early following a shower.

Horton did receive a life when on 20 after he was put down by wicketkeeper Adam Rossington, diving to his right off the bowling off Steven Crook.

However, it was only when the weather intervened later that the significance of the incident was revealed.

With speculation growing that Lancashire could pull off an unlikely run chase and reach the target of 414, Olly Stone entered the fray.

He produced a brilliant spell of bowling to remove Horton, clean bowled for 65, and then Alex Davies, trapped lbw for one.

When Ashwell Prince became Stone’s third victim, after the South African edged behind for seven, thoughts quickly turned from a Lancashire victory to the prospects of a rare Northants win in Manchester.

Skipper Steven Croft was next to join the procession as he was given out lbw off Rob Keogh without scoring, before Brown’s long vigil ended when he was tied up down the leg side by Steven Crook for 81.

Further joy for the visitors saw James Faulkner (nine) and Aaron Lilley (13) both falling lbw to spin, leaving the Lancashire innings in tatters when the welcome Mancunian drizzle began falling around 20 minutes before tea with the score 206 for seven.

It was hard not to feel for a frustrated Northants as play was eventually called off for the day with 43.5 overs to bowl, to Lancashire’s relief.