Ripley 'proud' of Northants efforts despite draw frustration against Lancashire

Northants head coach David Ripley
Northants head coach David Ripley

Northants head coach David Ripley declared himself 'proud' of this team's efforts in claiming a draw against Lancashire, who are the new leaders of the Specsavers County Championship Division Two.

The County had the better of much of the four-day game at Wantage Road, but were unable to claim the final four wickets to force a victory that would have really boosted their promotion hopes.

Haseeb Hameed hit a half-century

Haseeb Hameed hit a half-century

As it is, the 12 points gained has seen Northants drop go into the final five games of the season in sixth place, just 12 points off third-placed Derbyshire, who the County visit in their next match, starting at Chesterfield on Saturday.

“Once we came through that first morning, we controlled the game and I’m very proud of our efforts," said Ripley.

"The wicket lost a bit of it’s pace today but our endeavour remained high, we found edges that didn’t quite carry, we had a couple of tight umpiring calls and they also played well.

"Given the stage of the season, we’re not in a position where we desperately need a win and to get a decent haul of points against a side who are definitely going to be up at the top of the table come the end of the season is a very good result.”

The 10 points won by Lancashire saw them go top of the pile, and they are now seven points clear of second-placed Glamorgan.

Josh Bohannon was one of four Lancashire players to hit a half-century on the final day and frustrate Northants, and he was satisfied with his team's efforts.

"I thought the lads built partnerships really well in both innings, it was tough against the new ball and overall it’s been a great team performance from the batting unit," said Bohannon.

"It’s always nice to do the job you set out to do. We talk about being there at the end and that’s quite pleasing for me.

"Getting a chance up the order was a big thing for me this week.

"Things are looking good, we’ve been a bit unlucky with the weather with some matches but we are still top of the table."

Another of Lancashire's half-centurions was Haseeb Hameed who played just his second significant innings of the season to help his team earn the draw.

Required to see out 89 overs for a draw, Alex Davies made 53 before Hameed made his return to form with 55 in 116 balls.

He fell after tea but Bohannon, with 65 not out, and an unbeaten 53 from captain Dane Vilas saw Lancashire to a draw with six overs left in the match.

It was just the second time both Bohannon and Hameed had gone past 50 this season. The pair played out more than 20 overs either side of tea and when Hameed fell, Vilas joined

Bohannon to play out almost another 20 overs to the close.

Northants took the game deep into the final session and created a chance when the second new ball was taken with nine overs remaining.

Vilas edged Brett Hutton to third slip but Matt Coles put a low chance down and Northants’ final hope was extinguished.

Having been well behind the game for most of the match, Lancashire will be pleased to take 10 points.

Northants were forced to settle for 12 points from the draw but remain firmly in the promotion race with five games remaining and third-placed Derbyshire to play on Sunday.

For much of day four, all eyes were on Hameed.

He made a century in the opening match of the season at Lord’s to suggest he had rediscovered the form that brought him an England Test debut back in 2016 but another run of low scores has followed with just 158 runs in 11 innings since, including an eight-ball duck in the first-innings here.

The situation was made for Hameed’s desire just to occupy the crease.

He left well, worked the bowling smartly off his pads and it was a leg-side flick through square leg against Rob Keogh’s off spin that brought him a seventh boundary and a half-century in 109 balls.

Hameed couldn’t finish the job as after tea, he shouldered arms to Keogh and some sharp turn took out his off stump.

He needed one moment of major fortune with a hook against Ben Sanderson that he top-edged over long leg for six but hung around determinedly to help move his side away from a tricky spot at 111 for three in the 33rd over.

That was after Hutton sent a full delivery into the pads of Rob Jones, who misjudged the line and was lbw for 11.

At that stage, Northants had high hopes to force victory having removed the first-innings centurion Davies for 53 - also lbw to one that nipped back from Sanderson.

Davies had made a second half-century in the game in 52 balls with 12 boundaries but his dismissal removed a major obstacle for Northants.

Davies lost his opening partner Keaton Jennings in the morning session after a solid first-wicket stand of 60 to Coles’ first ball of the day.

Coles speared in a yorker that caught Jennings on the boot and was given out lbw for 20 but by then, the new ball was into it’s 15th over and Lancashire were through the most testing conditions.

There were few wicket-taking deliveries through the final two sessions as the wicket slowed and the ball softened and Bohannan, who passed 50 in 79 balls with nine fours, and Vilas, whose sixth fifty of the season was brought up in the final over of play, saw Lancashire comfortably to a draw.

The final day had begun with Northants pondering a declaration.

They resumed with a lead of 341 and batted on for five overs at the start of the day, adding another 49 runs.

Coles bludgeoned two sixes over long-on and deep midwicket before Sanderson pulled six over midwicket to the last ball before the declaration came at 263 for nine.

The thought lingered over whether it came too late.