Lancs made to toil in county opener

A rare moment of attack by Lancashire's Luke Procter
A rare moment of attack by Lancashire's Luke Procter
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Lancashire’s return to cricket’s County Championship top flight turned sour on the second day of their season opener against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.

Last year’s Division Two champions were in grave danger of being asked to follow on as their top-order folded in between two long rain delays.

Lancashire were 77 for six when play was called off due to the weather and still needing another 46 runs to avoid the follow on.

Nottinghamshire’s seamers made full use of a wicket that provided plenty of sideways movement after rain had delayed the start by three hours.

Nottinghamshire debutant Jake Ball grabbed the first championship wickets of his career - former South Africa batsman Ashwell Prince his notable first scalp - to return two for 25.

New-ball pair Luke Fletcher and Harry Gurney made the immediate inroads, however, as Lancashire’s openers departed to leave them four for two.

Stand-in skipper Paul Horton made a 22-ball duck after he was lbw trying to turn a full Fletcher delivery through mid-wicket.

Next over a static Luis Reece feathered a catch behind off Gurney.

Lancashire’s first runs in front of the wicket did not arrive until the ninth over, and even then Andrea Agathangelou saw an attempted cover drive squeeze through mid-wicket off an inside egde.

Agathangelou did start to find more conventional methods of keeping the hosts out but, just as he began to look comfortable, the South Africa-born right-hander raised his bat to usher through an Andy Carter delivery that instead crashed into off stump.

It was the sort of misjudgment Lancashire could ill afford on a seaming wicket and the introduction of Ball brought more frustration.

The 23-year-old drew Prince into an uncharacteristic feel outside off stump in his very first over to kick-start the Mansfield product’s Championship career.

Ball did show signs of nerves and will bowl far better overs without reward than the one in which he took his second wicket.

The right-armer’s first ball flew to the fence before he sprayed a leg-side wide to the rope.

Luke Procter then cut him for four more only to see the next ball crash into his front pad and prompt the umpire to raise his finger.

Nottinghamshire were on a roll and when skipper Chris Read turned to Steven Mullaney’s medium pace he prised out Alex Davies’ off stump with his third ball.

The rain arrived shortly after to save Lancashire further embarrassment and no play was possible after tea as the clouds closed in.

Earlier, Lancashire had taken four balls to wrap up the Nottinghamshire innings for 272 - of which Samit Patel’s 93 on the first day was increasingly looking more important.

Kabir Ali bowled last-man Gurney after two runs were added from the overnight total.

England seamer James Anderson therefore finished with five for 55.