Northamptonshire’s batsmen produced a resolute rearguard performance to secure a draw against Lancashire in their LV= Insurance County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford.
After conceding a first-innings deficit of 202 runs, the visitors were 213 for 5 when the players shook hands at the end of a day in which Keaton Jennings’ spinners had often bowled 21 overs an hour.
Northamptonshire’s skipper Luke Procter was undefeated on 27 and James Sales was 35 not out at the close, the pair having put on an unbroken 51 for the sixth wicket. Nevertheless, much of the credit for the bottom side’s steely display on a difficult wicket that was seeing its eighth day of cricket will also go to Emilio Gay, who followed his first innings 144 with a three-hour 61 that delayed Lancashire’s progress either side of the luncheon interval.
Gay’s vigil was particularly significant given that Lancashire had made two breakthroughs before lunch. Ricardo Vasconcelos was trapped leg before wicket for two by a ball from Tom Bailey that came back and kept low and Justin Broad was caught by Keaton Jennings at slip via a deflection off Morley for 16.
Resuming on 53 for two, Gay and Whiteman batted safely, albeit not without alarm, for eighty minutes. The pair had put on 96 in 39 overs when Gay, who had reached his fifty off 126 balls, came down the pitch to Hartley but only edged a catch to the safe hands of Jennings at first slip.
Four overs later, Whiteman was given out caught for 40 when he jammed down on a ball that was grabbed in his right hand by George Bell. That left Northamptonshire on 131 for four, still 71 in arrears and with 25 minutes until tea.
However, Procter and Saif Zaib guided their side safely to the final interval of the game, by which time the deficit had been reduced to just 48 runs, only for Lancashire’s bowlers to receive an immediate boost on the resumption when Zaib will consider himself unfortunate to be adjudged lbw when playing no shot to leg spinner Luke Wells’ third ball of the innings.
Jennings then rotated his spinners and took the new ball but Northamptonshire entered the last hour of the game on 191 for five and the home side had made no further breakthroughs when the game ended with clouds gathering and the light deteriorating. Procter had been stout in his defense all day while James Sales returned to the side with a positive and confident innings, particularly punishing any time the spinners dropped short.