It was difficult to escape the sense of history colliding with the future on the first morning of the Roses clash at Old Trafford.
This is the oldest and fiercest rivalry in English domestic cricket and this meeting sees the contest tick into its 150th year. The first clash was all the way back in 1867 when Yorkshire came out on top at Whalley.
But it was also Lancashire’s annual Schools Day at Old Trafford, with almost 4000 children generating a tremendous atmosphere ahead of the start of the match. While reflecting on all that history of this match, it was nice to think that among those 4000 could be the Roses players of the future.
However it was the most prestigious Roses player of the moment who grabbed the headlines and not in the way that he would have wanted.
James Anderson had started bowling beautifully, removing Alex Lees to have Yorkshire two down in the fifth over. But in his sixth over, with figures of 5.3-4-1-1, Anderson pulled up and collapsed in his delivery stride and immediately reached for his groin. He walked off unassisted, but didn’t return to the field. It will certainly concern England selectors with less than 50 days to that first Test against South Africa.
“He’s got a tight groin, he felt some pain and came off with it,” Lancashire coach Glen Chapple said.
“He will be assessed in the morning, fingers crossed he won’t be feeling it but we will have to see.
“One thing with someone like Jimmy is that you’re not going to risk anything. We have to respect what he’s got coming up. He’s not someone like me who you’d just push out there. We’ll take every precaution of course. I think the Test series is seven weeks away so we’re clear in what we have to do with him.”
In the short term his absence was a significant issue for Lancashire, who lost their other main seamer Kyle Jarvis to a fractured thumb the day before the game. They named two spinners, so Anderson’s injury left them with just Tom Bailey and Ryan McLaren as seam options.
It was particularly frustrating given how well the Red Rose had started against their cross-Pennines rivals. Having lost the toss, Bailey and Anderson’s early wickets had Yorkshire 9-2 and wobbling.
Skipper Gary Ballance spearheaded the recovery, as he has done all season, making a gritty 74 from 163 balls. He shared partnerships of 81 and 48 with Peter Handscomb and Jack Leaning respectively and has now passed 50 in five of his six Championship innings. Ballance averages 117 in the Championship this season.
At the fall of his wicket Yorkshire were 138-4 and the game was very finely poised. When Tim Bresnan and Azeem Rafiq fell in relatively quick succession after Tea, Yorkshire found themselves 178-6 and Lancashire could justifiably have felt they had their noses in front.
But four-day cricket swings surprisingly quickly, with every session pivotal in determining the final outcome. If Yorkshire are ultimately successful in this match they will look back on the 73-run stand between Leaning and Andrew Hodd at the end of the first day which has edged the visitors ever-so-slightly ahead in this contest at 251-6 at the close.
“I think it’s probably even,” Chapple said. “We had a great start getting those two early wickets and we made it difficult for Yorkshire to score.
“At 180-6 we would have liked more out of the day but all-in-all I think it’s about par. We expect the players to give everything they’ve got and they always do.
“Being a seamer light I think we’ve had a pretty good day.”
This game remains firmly in the balance. If Lancashire can take some early wickets in the morning they will be hopeful of dismissing their rivals for less than 300 which, having lost the toss, would be a respectable effort.
Even more so given how hampered they are by that Anderson injury. At the end of day one, captain Steven Croft resorted to bowling medium-paced seamers – something he hasn’t done for years.
With just one frontline seamer in Bailey, who is playing his first Championship match of the season, it’s Lancashire who have more problems to deal with heading into day two.