Blackpool's Richard Gleeson continues rampant Lancashire form with four Worcestershire wickets
Blackpool’s Richard Gleeson has put Lancashire on course for their third successive Specsavers County Championship win.
Worcestershire have a lot to do to save this battle of Division Two’s top two at Emirates Old Trafford, where Gleeson took 4-35 from 16.1 overs in the second innings, continuing the form which brought him a career best 10-wicket haul on debut in last week’s win over his former county Northamptonshire.Worcester have a lead of 120 with just one wicket left, having closed day two at 149-9 after a first-innings deficit of 29. Lancashire, replying to 172, started the day on 88-5 and were boosted by an aggressive 98-run sixth-wicket partnership between captain Dane Vilas (39) and Liam Livingstone, who top-scored with 69.They united for 20.1 overs to share the contest’s highest partnership.Livingstone hit 14 fours, five of them from successive balls by Ed Barnard. But Vilas fell in the next over to spark a superb Worcester fightback as Lancashire lost their last five wickets for just 15 runs to be bowled out for 201 at lunch.South African Wayne Parnell bowled Vilas and Livingstone to finish with 5-47 from 22 overs and fellow seamer Charlie Morris (4-52 from 16.2) took the other three.Unfortunately for Worcester, wickets continued to tumble, with Gleeson the standout.The fast bowler, who has been back to play for hometown club Blackpool in the Northern League this season, claimed three wickets either side of tea as the visitors slipped to 77-5.After Jimmy Anderson made the initial breakthrough to get Daryl Mitchell caught in the gully by Rob Jones off a leading edge with eight on the board. Opener Tom Fell and George Rhodes (26) had battled hard against some accurate bowling but the latter lost his middle stump to one which nipped back and kept low from Tom Bailey.Gleeson switched ends for his second spell and five balls in he had Callum Ferguson caught at second slip by Livingston, then Riki Wessels lbw with an in-swinger as it became 76-4 at tea.In the second over of the evening, Gleeson trapped Fell lbw for 40 with an outswinging yorker before Anderson bowled Ross Whiteley (81-6). Bailey struck again when Ben Cox was lbw five runs later.Barnard and Parnell shared 42 for the eighth wicket only for the former to be bowled for 18 trying to cut Livingstone’s off-spin.Gleeson then had Parnell caught behind for 25 with the first ball of the day’s final over.
Gleeson said: "It's been a good day. I think we bowled pretty well and kept it nice and tight. But it could be a tough chase. There looks like there's a little bit in the wicket, and it's difficult to score if teams bowl well. Hopefully we can get that last wicket early in the morning.
"We're going to have to bat well and hope they give us some bad stuff to put away. We're not quite as happy with how we batted in the first innings, but they bowled well. We just need to make sure we're clinical in the morning and bat properly to get over the line.
"It's two good teams going at it. We're both up there two from two, and it's almost like an early season winner takes all game.
"I kind of felt like I was running into the breeze from the Statham End, so there was a mention of a change of ends, and I was very keen for that. Then I got to the other end and spoke to Tom Bailey, and he seemed to think he'd been bowling into the wind as well (from the Anderson End). It seemed to be swirling around. But it was generally coming off my right shoulder, which helped me. I think we all bowled well and to the plan. Bunny (Graham Onions) was outstanding, but he didn't get the rewards."