It is sometimes difficult to judge which side has come out on top after a days cricket. Perhaps the best way to make that judgement is to break it down by session and on that basis, this was Gloucestershire’s day by two sessions to one.
They were positive in the opening session, building on their overnight total before claiming the wicket of Luis Reece before lunch. From there Paul Horton starred, racking up a brilliant century and, alongside Ashwell Prince, guided Lancashire to a position of control at tea and easily won the session for Lancashire.
After tea, something of a collapse occurred and meant that Gloucestershire claimed the final session as Lancs slipped from 207/2 to 265/6 before closing on 276/6.
Gloucestershire had ended the opening day in a strong position on 322/7 overnight having won the toss and electing to bat. Kieran Noema-Barnett and Craig Miles set about building on the platform given to them by Chris Dent’s century and were aggressive in the morning session. Peter Siddle and Kyle Jarvis bowled superbly and were unlucky on several occasions as inside and outside edges came and went without the fall of a wicket.
When Miles fell lbw to Siddle, Noema-Barnett went on the attack, prompting Lancashire skipper Steven Croft to place eight fielders on the fence. Jarvis claimed David Payne caught and bowled before Croft’s boundary-rider tactic worked as New Zealander Noema-Barnett picked out Nathan Buck on the fence to give Jarvis his fourth wicket. Gloucestershire ended on 388, just 12 runs short of securing maximum batting points but would have been pleased with their total and happy enough to have added 66 runs in 13.2 overs of the morning.
In response, Lancashire’s opening pair of Horton and Reece were kept quiet early doors by some accurate and penetrating bowling from Payne and Miles. The introduction of Liam Norwell, who took ten wickets in the match against Essex last week, proved inspired as he took the wicket of Reece, just as he was starting to look fluent. The left-hander opener attempted a pull shot but got an under-edge through to keeper Gareth Roderick as the home side headed for lunch on 31/1.
The big summer arrival at Old Trafford was Alviro Petersen and after his first innings of the season, a century against Derbyshire, it looked like an inspired move. Since then, the South African has hit scores of 9, 0, 22*, and 1 so the pressure was on him to find some form here. That didn’t happen as he was bowled by Miles for just seven, leaving Lancashire on 73/2.
From there it was one-way traffic. Horton continued his innings with consummate ease and soon passed 50 from just 94 balls and Prince, chasing a third successive century, settled quickly into his stride. The pair put on a 100 partnership from 21 overs and Horton soon brought up his own personal century from just 150 balls. It was the 21st first-class century of his career and the sixth at Old Trafford for a player who had been coming under some pressure. Meanwhile, Prince put himself back on top of the Division Two runs-scoring table, a position he had lost to Gloucestershire’s Chris Dent in the first innings.
At tea, Lancashire had marched on to 194/2 from 49 overs and had quickly halved Gloucestershire’s lead of 388.
Gloucestershire’s bowlers were starting to toil. Norwell and Miles were being picked off at will by the imperious Horton and Prince, while Noema-Barnett did little to inspire. It looked like the final session was going to be more of the same as Prince reached his 50 off 74 balls, before flashing at a wide one in the third over of the session and was caught behind off the bowling of Miles.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the runs dried up, and Horton took 20 overs to progress from his century to 119 in what was proving to be an attritional final session. The momentum Lancashire had built under Horton and Prince was soon to disappear.
They always say you should add two wickets to any score and that proved to be the case for Lancashire in the 68th over. First, Croft missed a straight one from Noema-Barnett and was trapped in front for 20 and with the very next ball new-man to the crease Alex Davies was run out for 0. He pushed to backward point and ran- Horton didn’t- and Will Tavare did the rest.
When Jordan Clark was lbw to Norwell with six overs to go in the day, Lancashire had slipped from 207-2 to 265-6. Those four wickets after tea changed the complexion of the day and leaves Gloucestershire with their noses in front in this match.