Lehmann a thorn to red roses

Lancashire 373 v Yorkshire 376-5
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The Independent Online

Darren Lehmann completed only the fourth double century in the history of Roses matches yesterday – a history that runs back to 1863, and includes the double-ton feats of Len Hutton in 1949 and Maurice Leyland in 1930 for Yorkshire, and Reggie Spooner in 1910 for Lancashire. But Lehmann's was the highest score of all, and as glittering a performance as has been seen in any of the preceding 235 encounters between the two counties, composed of powerful drives and pulls, smooth cutting and all beautifully timed.

So far he has spent five-and-a-quarter hours at the crease, played 256 balls and hit 31 fours and a six. He thick-edged a ball from John Wood past short third man and saw a ball pass over his off stump from Glen Chapple. That apart, he was faultless and will have stamped the memory of this match on the 4,000 lucky spectators: "I was there".

Lancashire had begun the day thinking, at 358 for 9, that they were fairly safe from defeat. After Lehmann's onslaught they face the possibility of a substantial Yorkshire lead, and the prospect of batting last on a difficult pitch.

Good judges believe that what Lancashire really need to clinch the Championship is another great fast bowler. When Colin Croft was about to play in his first Roses match, as Lancashire's feared new West Indian fast bowler, he asked his then county captain David Lloyd why the match was different. Bumble replied: "It's bit special like, a sort of mini-Test. When you see them white roses, Colin lad, let it go."

Croft "let it go" so quickly and so ferociously on that Saturday evening that he virtually dismembered the Yorkshire first innings, and an overwhelming Red Rose victory was prevented only by two days of rain. It is the lack of such pace and penetration that has stopped this current Lancashire team from taking a long overdue Championship. Yet the rumour is that next year's overseas professional will be the Australian batsman Stuart Law, now with Essex.

Yorkshire's immediate target was the 224 needed to avoid the follow-on. In fact, the innings began to roll from the start as Craig White, up the order to try to find form, laid into bowlers searching a line. He was caught behind attempting to pull a sixth boundary and although Anthony McGrath returned from injury, caught and bowled for a duck, the partnership of the day was formed.

Matthew Wood and Darren Lehmann added 169 in 41 overs. Just as the Roses record books were being thumbed – 186 for the third wicket by Geoff Boycott and John Hampshire at Sheffield in 1971 – Wood, in sight of the eighth century of his career, wearily waved at a widish ball to be caught behind.

Teams have come to believe that when Lehmann fails Yorkshire fail, but the opposite is also often true. Both counties have an Australian coach, Wayne Clark and Bobby Simpson. So perhaps it's not so hard to blame Lancashire for thinking Australian, for thinking of Law.

What will have disappointed many Lancastrians, enjoying a rare Leeds heatwave, will have been the bowling of the two Lancashire spinners, Chris Schofield and Gary Keedy, on a not unresponsive pitch. The fact is, they simply do not get enough practice.

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