Chapple and Crook stand firm for Lancashire

Kent 615 Lancashire 307 & 316-6
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Having spent much of the day - indeed much of this match - on the back foot, there was finally a glimmer of fightback and grit in the Lancashire ranks late yesterday as they attempted the near-impossible of salvaging something, anything, from this game.

Having spent much of the day - indeed much of this match - on the back foot, there was finally a glimmer of fightback and grit in the Lancashire ranks late yesterday as they attempted the near-impossible of salvaging something, anything, from this game.

And the fact that they finally got in front, albeit by just eight runs, suggests they have not yet given up all hope.

It was all beginning to look a bit hopeless for Lancashire after they were bowled out 308 runs behind in the first innings, and five of their finest were back in the Nevill Ground pavilion second time around.

But Glen Chapple and Steven Crook stopped the rot, grafting and crafting for an entertaining 34 overs, adding 153 runs for the sixth wicket throughout a long and tense afternoon. As the shadows grew longer so did the faces of the Kent players.

Unfortunately, when they had lugged Lancashire to within 20 runs of making Kent bat again, Crook cracked, and drove back firmly to bowler Andrew Symonds, who dived to his left and pulled off a superb two-handed catch.

Earlier Lancashire had stumbled to the lunch interval two down and too few on the board, and not long after the start of the afternoon session they appeared to have lost a third wicket, when Mal Loye was given out caught behind.

Umpire Burgess raised his finger, but felt that the ball had contacted pad not bat. He consulted with colleague Mervyn Kitchen, then called Loye, who by then was halfway to the pavilion, back to the middle.

But the batsman, on 14 at the time, managed to add only a further 20 runs, and when his third-wicket partner, Stuart Law, fell in the next over, it looked like curtains.

Alec Swann's subsequent demise suggested that the heart at least, had been ripped out of the innings. But not, it became apparent, the soul, as Crook and Chapple demonstrated.

And Chapple stayed there, clinging tightly to survival, and together with his captain Warren Hegg finally dragged Lancashire in front. Whether they can carry on the good work today is another matter.

The Lancashire first innings lasted barely an hour in the morning, although it took a stunning piece of fielding to engineer the fall of the first wicket of the day, that of Hegg, who top-edged an attempted pull.

The ball flew high over the deep, and Symonds running back from square leg, his face turned heavenwards to follow the progress of the shot, adjusted and readjusted his position. As the ball neared the earth the Australia all-rounder still appeared to be too far from the estimated point of impact.

But Symonds, an instinctive and athletic cricketer, summoned up a superhuman effort and flung himself forwards, simultaneously stretching out his right hand. Miraculously, marvellously, the ball landed in it. Umpire Burgess later reckoned it was the best catch he had ever seen. He was not alone in his assessment. Some 2,000 spectators fully endorsed that view.

Crook, with whom Hegg had added a solid half century for the seventh wicket, followed quickly on the heels of eighth man out, Kyle Hogg, then it was left to Dominic Cork, coming in at No 10 with an average of 6.5, and Gary Keedy to try to reduce the deficit to more attainable proportions. Which they duly did.

Comments