Lancashire’s cricketers in uphill fight

Croft - had to dig in
Croft - had to dig in
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Lancashire’s dreams of promotion switched to staving off an innings defeat by Kent during an action-packed day of LV= County Cricket Championship cricket in Canterbury.

Division Two leaders Lancashire resumed their first innings with a target of 350 uppermost in their minds - the figure they required to clinch the four batting bonus points that would have secured their return to the top flight.

However, within 78 overs, the visitors had been skittled for 259 and were already a wicket down after being made to follow-on for the first time this season.

Having banked four points for their impressive 570 for eight declared, Kent continued to boss the game with the ball as Matt Coles claimed three for 75 to dismiss the visitors by 4.45pm - some 162 runs short of avoiding the follow on. Matt Hunn, Darren Stevens and Calum Haggett chipped in with two wickets apiece, ensuring Lancashire batted again in the face of a 311-run first innings deficit.

The follow-on got off to a terrible start for Lancashire as Karl Brown departed for a second ball duck, trapped on the crease and leg before to give Coles his 61st wicket of the championship campaign.

Other than avoiding the wooden spoon, Kent had gone into the fixture with little to play for other than end-of-season pride, but to their credit Sam Northeast’s side put in a thoroughly professional performance in whittling their way through the Lancashire order.

The hosts fielded sharply and bowled tight lines to pick up five wickets in the first session. Haseeb Hameed (14) nicked a Stevens away-swinger to the cordon and Alviro Petersen was pinned lbw three balls later by the same bowler to depart for a duck.

Ashwell Prince reached 17 before he aimed to cut a Hunn off-cutter that cramped the left-hander and resulted in a catch behind the wicket.

Karl Brown did his bit to stop the rot with an 86-ball 50, but his airy drive soon after the landmark was snaffled at the second attempt by Ben Harmison at third slip.

Alex Davies (four) made a late decision to try and shoulder arms but only succeeded in deflecting the delivery from Coles onto the base of middle stump to send the visitors wobbling in at lunch on 104 for five.

Visiting skipper Steven Croft dug in to bat time thereafter, reaching a 108-ball half-century for his part in a sixth-wicket stand with Jordan Clark (44) which ended when the allrounder feathered one from Haggett to the slips.

Tom Bailey (18) perished just before tea when driving over a Tredwell arm ball, but worse followed after the interval when Lancashire lost their last three wickets for 17 runs. Glen Chapple (eight) top-edged a hook to long leg, Simon Kerrigan (two) nicked a leg-glance to the keeper and, 15 short of his hundred and with only the last man for company, Croft aimed to leg to be pinned lbw by Coles.

Lancashire’s dismal match continued when Brown was dismissed for a duck at the start of the follow-on, and with only two balls of the day remaining, Petersen was bowled following a hot-blooded advance to Tredwell and attempted slog.