James Anderson, who will be commandeered by England within days, is old enough at 20 to know that fast bowling is a dangerously erratic career: here today, gone tomorrow, wine and roses one day, tears and bruises the next. Given the traditional Stretford End on yesterday's perfect morning he trapped Jason Gallian with a fast near-yorker to end his first over and went on to give Darren Bicknell a hard time in his next five.
Recalled at the opposite end after another 12 overs, with Nottinghamshire at 66 for 3, he found bowling at a belligerent Chris Cairns a different world. The ball was no longer new and Cairns leaned eagerly into wide and over-pitched deliveries, driving 11 runs in one over. By that stage, Lancashire's old firm of Glen Chapple and Peter Martin, the latter coming on first change for perhaps the first time in a decade, had taken a wicket each. Anderson's huge promise is endorsed by his strike rate of a wicket every 34 balls.
Then came frustration: after losing 80 overs at The Oval when in a commanding position, Lancashire saw the rain intervene again – costing another 65 overs. They are not yet in the driving seat here and every point, before Anderson and Andrew Flintoff are whisked away, is precious.
Leg-spin, like a rare and beautiful butterfly, is not often seen in April – a happy reminder of how dry and bright the last few weeks have been – and Chris Schofield, a bowler who has learned all about heartaches in his career, had six overs before the rain came. He appeared, on schedule, just before lunch, the traditional moment nowadays to introduce the first spinner of the day.
He won sufficient response, bowling in the current style into the bowlers' rough on the leg-side, to be kept on after lunch and, what's more, be rewarded with a silly point. Although Schofield restrained Cairns, and found a couple of edges, nothing went to hand and further experiments will have to wait until today, the weather permitting.
Jim Troughton gave the England selectors a brief glimpse of his international potential as Warwickshire added what runs they could on a rain-ruined second day of their First Division match against Essex at Edgbaston. Troughton, unbeaten on 107 overnight, had time in 40 minutes of play – before a band of rain wiped out the day – to move to 129 not out in a first-innings 446 for 7, in the presence of England's chairman of selectors, David Graveney, and the Academy director Rod Marsh.
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