Lancashire survive Kirby assault

Somerset 268 Lancashire 361-7
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Lancashire defied Steve Kirby's attempts to almost single-handedly demolish the county of his birth to grab a handy lead in what has become a decent contest in front of another good crowd here.

The county's Merseyside supporters have shown their appreciation for Lancashire adopting Liverpool as their temporary headquarters by turning out in good numbers, with around 1,300 spectators ringing this pleasant tree-lined ground for the second day running. They saw Paul Horton and Stephen Moore put on 93 for the first wicket but it looked as though Somerset's 268 might be a better effort than it had first appeared as Lancashire slipped to 169 for 5.

But a stand of 113 between Gareth Cross and Tom Smith for the sixth wicket turned the innings around before the Sri Lankan Farveez Maharoof, who had been unlucky not to mark his debut with wickets on Wednesday, revealed his all-round capability with a valuable unbeaten 49.

The versatile Smith has moved up and down the Lancashire order in the last couple of years. He made his career best score – 128 – opening against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl last July, which underlines what a dangerous player he is to be coming in at six.

Smith batted for four and a quarter hours without offering a sniff of a chance until Marcus Trescothick, who had used five bowlers in support of Kirby, turned to Arul Suppiah's left-arm spin. Smith was on 89, his best score since that century last July, and sensing that his fourth first-class hundred might be there for the taking when he reached for one from Suppiah and edged to Trescothick at slip.

Earlier, after Horton had edged Charl Willougby to first slip, the day had belonged to Kirby, a fiery customer who still has not given up entirely on impressing the right people, even though he will be 34 in October. Kirby was born in Bury and played for Heywood Cricket Club, near Rochdale, but was overlooked by Lancashire, beginning his professional career with Leicestershire and enjoying his biggest success, ironically, with Yorkshire, with whom he won a Championship medal in 2001. He moved to Gloucestershire in 2004 and switched again when Somerset offered him an opportunity in the winter.

Like Lancashire's Saj Mahmood on Wednesday, he found conditions ideal, getting the ball to swing from a full length, beginning his assault as Moore edged one to gully, the first of three wickets in 10 balls, Karl Brown edging to point and Steven Croft to the wicketkeeper, giving him figures of 6-1-19-3 from his opening spell.

He came back to make Mark Chilton his fourth victim and punched the air with a delighted whoop when he broke the Smith-Cross partnership in similar fashion, just after the wicketkeeper had reached 50.