Lancashire batting slump in vital relegation clash in Southport

Toby Lester took a wicket in his first Championship game of the season
Toby Lester took a wicket in his first Championship game of the season
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Fifteen wickets fell on day one as Worcestershire seized control of the Specsavers County Championship clash against Lancashire at Southport.

Lancashire’s batting left them in a hole after their bowlers delivered again, with Tom Bailey taking 4-41 as Worcestershire were bowled out for what appeared a below-par 222.

But by the close that total was looking much healthier as Josh Tongue claimed three wickets and instigated a run out and Worcestershire had the hosts 95-5.

Lancashire began the match bottom of Division One, six points adrift of Worcestershire from a game more, making this a crucial clash in the battle for survival.

Eyebrows were raised when Worcestershire chose to bat under cloudy skies and Lancashire made regular breakthroughs – the Pears’ highest partnership was just 41 – as their seamers exploited a little bit of movemen.

Poulton's Toby Lester got the ball rolling with the opening wicket on his first Championship outing of the season.

When Jordan Clark had Joe Clarke caught behind just before lunch, Worcestershire had lost four wickets for 98, including a poor run out of Alex Milton for a duck.

Bailey extended his lead at the top of the wicket-taker standings with his four.

Brett D’Oliveira was his prize scalp. The Worcestershire captain batted very nicely for 65, an innings which featured nine fours.

But Bailey returned to take him and Wayne Parnell in quick succession – the latter with a superb delivery that removed his off-stump.

Lancashire wrapped up the innings shortly after tea but batting has been the Red Rose’s Achilles heel.

It was the case again as Tongue had Haseeb Hameed caught in the slips for a first-ball duck and five balls later sent Rob Jones on his way without scoring, leaving Lancashire 4-2.

Steven Croft briefly threatened a counter-punch but fell to Parnell for 14.

Alex Davies and Dane Vilas, shared an excellent 50 partnership, brought up from just 55 balls.

The life they had injected into Lancashire’s innings was extinguished in the space of another Tongue over. Vilas’ departure was unlucky, Davies drilling a straight drive which Tongue deflected onto the stumps to run the South African out at the non-strikers end for 18.

And two balls later he trapped Davies for 47, leaving Lancashire 85-5 and in heaps of trouble.