The first day of Lancashire’s clash with Surrey was lost entirely to the weather. In many cases that would take the edge off the match, but those present at Old Trafford across the next three days witnessed an intriguing, fiercely competitive contest.
It was a contest that ended, ultimately, in a draw. A hard-earned draw at that from Surrey’s perspective, forced to follow on and bat out an evening session against a Lancashire attack hunting their first win of the season.
Much of Lancashire’s performance bore resemblance to the character and fight that took them to second-place in Division One last season. A shaky start with the bat having been asked to bat first – they found themselves 23-3 – was overcome by a spirited fightback from the middle and lower order.
Five batsmen made a half-century, with Shivnarine Chanderpaul steadying the ship and allowing the likes of Steven Croft and Jordan Clark to kick on further down the order.
Joe Mennie and Tom Bailey passed the record ninth-wicket stand for the Red Rose against Surrey of 96 – which was recorded by Alex Watson and John Crossland in 1882. It was a first-class best for Bailey too, making 66.
They would take the partnership past 101 – Ian Grieg & Nick Kendrick’s record ninth-wicket stand for either side in this fixture from 1990 – and were rattling Lancashire’s total on with a flurry of strokes.
Their 439-9dec in the first innings was to prove beyond Surrey. Graham Onions earned a moment of personal bragging rights, dismissing former Durham teammates Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick.
“It was nice to get them out, they are obviously terrific players,” Onions said.
After a promising start, given to them by Rory Burns and Borthwick, Surrey were 120-2 at tea on day three.
But seven wickets fell after that interval as Lancashire began to run through the Surrey lower order, taking advantage of the second new ball and putting themselves into the ascendancy.
Bailey and Onions finished with four apiece, the latter wrapping up Surrey’s innings on the fourth and final morning by removing Amar Virdi. Surrey were all out for 235, 54 short of the follow-on target and 204 behind Lancashire’s first-innings total.
Inevitably the follow-on was enforced. But Stoneman, wanting runs with pressure on his England place, and Burns saw Surrey through to lunch without loss. 53-0 the total.
It was still the total when Stoneman and Borthwick fell victim to Bailey, for 29 and 0 respectively. They would be followed by Burns and Elgar before tea, to leave Surrey 103-4, still 101 behind.
Lancashire therefore had a glimmer of hope, chasing those six wickets for victory in the final session. Ben Foakes made a half-century, also sharing a 50-stand with Ollie Pope to edge Surrey towards safety.
The Red Rose could manage only two wickets, both Foakes and Pope falling to Bailey with the new ball. But Sam Curran and Ryan Patel saw Surrey through to the close to seal the draw.
Bailey was the star of the show, claiming match figures of 8-67 and bringing Lancashire within striking distance of forcing an improbable win.
The tall seamer bowled with control and managed to find movement, especially with the new ball and he also passed 100 first-class wickets in the match.
“I’ve been bowling well for the last couple of seasons but not had much luck with injuries to try and stay in the team,” Bailey said.
“The coaches have told me this winter to step up and lead the attack and I was ready to take it with both hands.”
The performance of Bailey has also impressed head coach Glen Chapple, who has been thrilled with the way his seamer bowled.
“Tom Bailey has shown his attributes,” Chapple said.
“He bowls some lively spells, he’s got the ability to get the ball through, he gets bounce because he’s tall and he controls the seam, he’s holding his length fantastically well and he can be very miserly when he needs to be. Bowling on a flat pitch, he has all the attributes for that.”
Lancashire take 12 points from the match, the draw ending their run of two successive defeats, while Surrey take away eight points.
Chapple was delighted with the attitude of his Lancashire side.
“It was a brilliant performance. The pitch was good. There was a bit in it on the first morning when we were asked to bat first, predictably, and after the first half hour I thought we played magnificent cricket, as good as you will see in this division.
“The effort from the lads was superb throughout, we controlled virtually every session of the match. There were some top class performances, great partnerships and some real resilience and effort over the three days. It would have been an unbelievable effort to win in three days on that pitch. If it had gone the four days I think we would have come out on top.”