Prince ties up Notts with regal hundred

Lancashire 189 & 230-3 Nottinghamshire 367-9 dec (Match drawn): Lancashire's overseas star shines as Red Rose escape with a draw
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The Independent Online

Ashwell Prince promised Lancashire he would make a greater impression during his second stint in county cricket than he achieved in his first and so far he is proving as good as his word.

The 31-year-old South African managed only one half-century in four Championship innings as Nottinghamshire finished runners-up to Durham last season, which was a modest return at the end of a summer that included two Test tons against England.

"I was disappointed with how that went and I wanted to come back and set the record straight," Prince said on his arrival at Old Trafford, where he is keeping the overseas player position warm for VVS Laxman, who is playing in the Indian Premier League.

Ironically, it was Nottinghamshire who witnessed the best of him yesterday when the compact left-hander snuffed out any hope they had of winning a rain-affected contest with a high-quality performance that brought him his first Lancashire century.

Three disrupted days meant the match had not progressed beyond an innings for each side when the final day began but, with a lead of 177 overnight, Nottinghamshire fancied themselves to bowl Lancashire out.

When Lancashire stumbled to 39-3 it looked possible that might happen but once Prince, with scores of 56, 91 not out and 74 from his first three innings of the season, had settled in, it became an increasingly unrealistic objective.

It was Nottinghamshire's morning. Luke Fletcher, the home-grown 20-year-old quick who took two debut wickets in the first innings, added a couple more in a commendable opening spell, trapping Tom Smith leg before with an inswinger before François du Plessis perished in the same way, shouldering arms.

In between, Paul Horton had been caught by stand-in wicketkeeper Bilal Shafayat – Chris Read had rushed home after his wife, Louise, went into labour – off Ryan Sidebottom as the England left-arm seamer stepped up his rehabilitation by moving one away from the opener. When a dog ran on the field to stop play, prompting the umpires to call lunch a few minutes early, Lancashire probably welcomed the distraction.

After it, Nottinghamshire could not develop any momentum. Sidebottom, used in short bursts, could not add to his success and Graeme Swann, the England off-spinner, was ineffective, Prince twice hitting him for six.

Having chosen his shots carefully in reaching 51 off 92 balls, Prince then raised his tempo, adding another 52 from only 60 deliveries, completing his 25th first-class hundred with a lovely back-foot stroke to the third-man boundary, which put Lancashire ahead.

Just as pleasing for Lancashire was the support given by Mark Chilton, the former captain, whose confidence looked to have deserted him at times over the last couple of seasons. He was on 56 and the partnership worth 191 when the teams exchanged handshakes on a draw.