Lancashire show off their riches

Lancashire 210-1 v Leicestershire
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The Independent Online

On this ground, 100 years ago, Archie MacLaren and Reggie Spooner scored 368 in 210 minutes to establish a Lancashire record for an opening stand that remains to this day. By lunch yesterday the county's current openers Iain Sutcliffe and Mark Chilton, both Yorkshiremen, had raised 104 in 135 minutes.

True, the record was never in danger for the hard-hitting Sutcliffe was caught at slip soon after lunch, but the comparisons raised some interesting speculations.

Lancashire went on to win their second Championship in 1904. Their current team have the credentials. Harbhajan Singh arrives in eight days and with the in-form Gary Keedy and Chris Schofield will form the most versatile spin attack in England. The fast attack needs, if anything, less advertising; but for injury it is possible that Kyle Hogg would be another to be taken by the England selectors.

The arrivals of Mal Loye, whose innings was the best yesterday, and Sutcliffe, have boosted the form of Chilton. Stuart Law endangers bowlers everywhere while Andrew Flintoff, 15 Championship sixes this summer, endangers roofs.

Captain Warren Hegg remains, whatever the selectors think, the best keeper/batsman, as opposed to batsman/keeper.

So the Foxes anticipated a hard day gazing on what Cardus described as "Aigburth's marbled lawns'' once they had lost the toss and were saved only from blisters by the arrival of rain washing across the Mersey at 3.37pm.

By then Phillip DeFreitas had used eight bowlers, none more often than himself and was by then starting his third spell. He did skirt the edge a few times and three possible catches dropped just short. The best and briskest of his bowlers, David Masters, deserving the wicket. In 1903, MacLaren, was reported to have been dropped three times.

The Scousers, rightly celebrating their elevation to European Capital of Culture (and their jokes will be better than ours) filled almost all the available seats. In 1903 the average attendance here for a three-day match was 5,000, not greatly different.

And one last line from 1903: here, later that summer, Johnny Tyldesley, the great Lancashire and England No 3, hit a double century against Worcestershire. Today at the Riverside a young Yorkshire player born in Salford, a relative of Tyldesley's takes the field for England in the second Test against Zimbabwe: Michael Vaughan.

The current champions Surrey, will aim to have a sufficient lead in points to make their Old Trafford visit irrelevant. Lancashire, already foiled three times by the weather, must close the gap.

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