Lancashire fought back well against Northamptonshire on a second day dominated by the host’s batsmen as the home side’s middle order took their side to within 200 of the visitor’s first innings score.
In perfect batting conditions, the LV= County Championship Division Two leaders started the day hoping for quick wickets as Northants began the morning session on 388-6 but with their tail exposed.
A frenetic opening hour saw the visitors lose Adam Rossington, trapped LBW by Kyle Jarvis, for 89 before former Lancs all rounder Steven Crook (34) and Azarullah (12*) added some valuable late order runs to help take the score to 438 all out. Australian James Faulkner was the pick of the Red Rose bowlers, finishing with 4-63.
With the mercury rising, Lancashire’s reply got off to the worst possible start when a wonderful second over of the innings from Olly Stone climaxed with the 21-year-old knocking back Paul Horton’s off stump as the Lancashire opener’s poor run of form with the bat continued.
In a mirror image of Northamptonshire’s batting, an early wicket was followed by a century partnership as Karl Brown and Alex Davies began rebuilding with determination and no little skill.
Brown, who earlier had survived an easy stumping opportunity when Adam Rossington fumbled a sharply turning delivery from Graeme White, reached his half-century in the half hour before the break, quickly followed by 20-year-old Davies, who celebrated being shortlisted for the LV= Breakthrough Player of the Year, with a fifth 50 of the season before edging Rob Keogh behind two balls later for 51.
Despite the breakthrough, things did not get any any easier for the overworked Northants bowlers after tea as Brown and the in-form Ashwell Prince set about building another big partnership.
It was a particularly memorable afternoon for South African Prince as he first passed 18,000 first-class runs when reaching 55 and then became the first player this season to hit 1,000 Championship runs after making 61.
Meanwhile at the other end, a long awaited second first class century seemed to be within Brown’s grasp until he inexplicably top edged a cut off White to Stone at slip for 97 with the score on 226 and the broken third wicket partnership worth 116. It was especially unfortunate for the Bolton-born player who earlier in the season had got out for 96 against Leicestershire.
Northants sniffed a rare chance and got their reward when Prince (83) followed soon after, edging a drive to Stone at slip off Keogh, who bowled his off breaks tirelessly for 27 overs.
Despite Richard Levi dropping a late chance presented by Croft off the bowling of Keogh, the double breakthrough perhaps tipped the scales slightly in the visitors’ favour with Faulkner (5*) and skipper Steven Croft (13*) negotiating the rest of the day’s play safely to reach 257-4 at the close.