Lancashire ahead on points after opening day

Ben Duckett in action during the first day of the clash with Lancashire

Ben Duckett in action during the first day of the clash with Lancashire

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Lancashire had marginally the better of the opening skirmishes in the top of the table County Championship clash with Lancashire at the County Ground.

A closing score of 275-7 was a slightly under par effort on what looked to be a decent surface but it isn’t awful by any means and it has set up the contest nicely for the three days that remain.

After the helter skelter of the past few days it was good to see the return of the game for the purist.

There was no blaring musical interludes, no inane PA announcers and no swinging at anything pitching in the batsman’s half, just good, old-fashioned, attritional first-class cricket between two teams in form.

The County went into the game with a 17-point advantage over the visitors, and their nearest rivals, and the way the day unfolded was indicative of this.

At no stage were the batting side allowed to get away and the bowling, if not highly penetrative, was both accurate and, in turn, containing.

It had to be after Glen Chapple, perhaps with his side’s recent successes in mind, had somewhat surprisingly elected to bowl first after winning the toss.

And by the first interval, with the scoreboard showing 90-0, it looked to be an erroneous decision.

There was movement in the opening half an hour as the new ball caused some problems but after things had settled down, Kyle Coetzer and James Middlebrook went about their business in an efficient manner.

Their collective effort notched the highest opening partnership of the season and set what was an excellent platform.

But the break, and how often does this happen, proved to be their undoing as Coetzer had his stumps rearranged by Kyle Hogg three balls after the resumption.

The needless run-out of Middlebrook quickly followed as David Sales sent him back as he looked for a single to cover point and all of a sudden the visitors were back in the fight.

Sales and Duckett calmed everything down before Glen Chapple took three wickets in 20 deliveries to completely shift the balance of power.

Sales inside edged behind, Duckett was cleaned up and Andrew Hall flicked to square-leg to make the score 159-5.

Matt Spriegel and David Willey didn’t hang around too long and when the latter departed to an excellent catch by Karl Brown at a wide second slip off Wayne White a seriously underwhelming total was on the cards.

That it didn’t come to that was chiefly down to Cameron White with the Australian, making a bonus appearance in white clothes, making a disciplined half century from number five.

He could have gone before reaching double figures if Gareth Cross had held on to a difficult chance low to his right off Chapple but apart from that he stuck to his task and got his rewards.

He was provided with worthy support by David Murphy, who also survived a chance off Chapple, this one a straightforward edged to Brown at first slip, and the pair were in situ at stumps with work to be done come tomorrow morning.