Strong winds at Wantage Road may prove to be the abiding memory as Northamptonshire’s LV= County Championship match with Lancashire drifted into stalemate.
The home side lost just three wickets on the final day to finish on 393 for 8 in their second innings, thanks to hundreds for Rob Keogh and Steven Crook and 81 for Stephen Peters.
Resuming on 42 for 2, Northamptonshire hoped to end a streak of four straight defeats to their Red Rose opponents with whom they were relegated from Division One last season. Peters and Keogh, who had been joined together at 13 for 2, showed the necessary caution and solid defence required, with Lancashire’s attack keen on a third win of three.
Now 36 years of age, Peters may be heading towards the end of his career rather than starting it, but his service for Essex and Worcestershire and now Northamptonshire will be fondly recalled by their members.
Having been told by the Tudor Rose county that he was surplus to requirements in the winter, he has showed keen resolve in the season’s early weeks and brought up his 14,000 career first-class run on the way to a third successive fifty in Championship cricket.
Particularly strong on the leg side, Peters made a well constructed 81 before hooking Jordan Clark to Simon Kerrigan half an hour before lunch.
Keogh, with the support of Adam Rossington, had a longer stay in mind. The Dunstablian’s maiden first-class century proved to be a double century when he made 221 against Hampshire in September 2013 and while he suffered two separate finger breaks in Northants’ horror season of 2014, Keogh also made two centuries against the touring Sri Lankans and Sussex.
But reaching three figures in testing blustery conditions will give him heart for the campaign ahead and Keogh celebrated with a swish of the bat, following his cover drive off Kerrigan that took him to 100 off 146 balls.
Soon afterwards, the 23-year-old hooked Jordan Clark to Tom Bailey for long leg without adding to his score.
Crook followed up this and his 91 in the first innings with a typically breezy knock second time around. Hooking anything short, he was determined to reach a maiden first-class hundred on the ground where he has played the bulk of his first class career. The all-rounder knocked a bristling 50 off 48 balls and by the time Alviro Petersen’s medium pace was called on, he got to three figures with a push into the covers, taking 90 balls to do so.
South African Richard Levi wasn’t called on to bat after dislocating his finger but such was the lack of intensity in the game, Lancashire’s left arm orthodox spinner Simon Kerrigan could be seen bowling chinaman legspin in the final session.
This high-scoring draw will suit both sides, with both in the promotion places and given the importance of a strong start, both Lancashire and Northamptonshire will have hopes of an immediate return to Division One, even after just three games.
However, neither will want to see a return of the strong gales for which this match will be chiefly remembered.