Ashwell Prince (104*) scored his second hundred in as many matches for Lancashire to lead their recovery against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.
The visitors closed on 216/4 after falling to 3/2 in their first innings, eventually bowling Northants out for 385, with former Lancashire all-rounder Steven Crook making 91 to give the hosts a strong first-innings total.
Jordan Clark claimed 4-101 in only his second first-class game for the Red Rose as he helped Lancashire to claim the final determined Northants wickets and Kyle Jarvis (3-79) took his season tally to 17 wickets with another impressive performance.
Northants started the second day approaching their first batting point as Adam Rossington (57) and Crook tucked into Lancashire’s bowlers. The pair added 80 runs for the seventh-wicket stand and boundaries were easy to come by in the morning session as they hit a combined total of 20 fours and three sixes.
Rossington played a key hand yesterday evening to ensure that Northants did not lose any more wickets in the deteriorating light and he reached a 72-ball fifty, only the fifth of his first-class career, as he and Crook commanded the morning session.
Crook soon followed with a half-century of his own in 56 deliveries, lofting Simon Kerrigan (1-66) for six over long-on to bring up this milestone, but Lancashire eventually found a breakthrough when Clark trapped Rossington lbw with the score at 277/7.
One wicket brought another soon after when Rory Kleinveldt (4) became Kerrigan’s first wicket, also falling lbw as the hosts lost their second wicket for 21 runs. Crook continued to be the main enforcer and was giving his former side a real headache as he took advantage of a pitch which seemed to offer very little to Lancashire once the new ball had lost its shine.
Ollie Stone went onto reach his highest first-class score as he and Crook added a useful stand worth 35 runs before Crook became Jarvis’s third wicket of the innings and the third batsman to be out lbw in the morning session as he was denied what would have only been his second first-class century.
If Stone’s partnership with Crook was useful then his 52-run stand with Mohammad Azharullah (15*) was exceptional and it was a partnership which took Northamptonshire’s score from 333 at the loss of Crook to 385 all out when Stone was eventually caught and bowled by Clark for 38.
Their partnership was so determined and defiant that even an additional half an hour was not enough for Lancashire to bowl Northants out in the morning session, although it didn’t take the visitors long to claim the final wicket when the players returned after lunch.
When Lancashire finally took their turn to bat, there was a feeling of optimism about being able to bat on this pitch after following Northamptonshire’s strong showing, but Kleindvelt (2-68) had other ideas as he claimed two wickets in his first two overs to reduce the opposition to 3/2.
Luis Reece fell for no score when he edged Kleinveldt behind to Rossington to the final delivery of the first over and Alviro Petersen (1) was out lbw when his fellow South-African had him trapped in front of all three stumps, as Kleinvedlt claimed wickets in successive overs to continue what had already been a promising day for the home side.
Paul Horton continued his fine form from Lancashire’s win against Kent as he and the ever-dependable Prince added 112 runs for the third wicket either side of tea to recover the innings after a disappointing start.
Prince led the recovery as he soon reached fifty in just 80 balls, with Lancashire now approaching the hundred-run mark. The South-African’s innings was not without its moments of fortune and the biggest slice of luck came when substitute fielder Maurice Chambers failed to make up what seemed to be only a small amount of ground to hold on to Prince’s leading edge.
Horton was also given a lifeline when he was dropped by Richard Levi in the slips, but he failed to mimic Prince by reaching a half-century as he was out lbw to Azharullah (2-47).
This wicket brought captain Steven Croft to the crease who had enjoyed his last opportunity to bat with Prince against Northants when they added 322 runs for the fourth wicket together at Old Trafford last season. After a precarious start Lancashire would have welcomed a partnership of even half that figure, but there was no such luck on this occasion as Croft was also out lbw to Azharullah for 7.
One of Lancashire’s leading lights this year has been Alex Davies and he, alongside Prince, ensured that the visitors made it to close of play without losing another wicket. Conditions continued to get worse but after the light which Northants had been forced to bat in yesterday it would have been unfair to come off for bad light.
Nevertheless Prince and Davies’s efforts were made that bit more impressive by the deteriorating conditions and their unbeaten partnership worth 73 was crucial for Lancashire who could easily have been dealt the same fate as their hosts by losing quick wickets in the unpleasant conditions.
The closest Northants came to claiming a fifth wicket was when Azharullah struck Davies on the front leg, although the ball did seem to be sliding down the leg side. With a matter of minutes left in the day, Prince topped another superb day with the bat as he reached his 42nd first-class hundred in 146 balls with his fourteenth boundary bringing him his second century in as many matches for Lancashire, who were once again indebted to his contribution.