All-rounder Ben Stokes marked his return to the England squad by taking three for 50 as Luke Procter posted a patient six-hour 122 to help Lancashire set Durham a challenging 247 to win their Specsavers County Championship match at Southport.
Stokes missed England’s 75-run defeat to Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s last week as he continued his rehabilitation from knee surgery, but after a wicket-less first innings with ball in hand, the 25-year-old kept his county in with a chance of pulling off victory.
The 28-year-old Procter had only reached three figures in the Championship once before this season, in 2011, but already has two to his name this term after one against Hampshire in early May.
He underpinned Lancashire’s second-innings score of 333 all out on a pitch offering assistance for both seam and spin bowlers.
The hosts started day three on 59 for one, 28 runs in arrears, and Procter and second-wicket partner Haseeb Hameed wiped off the deficit.
They completed a partnership of 114 in 37 overs, with Hameed reaching 53 before he gloved an accurate short ball from Stokes to third slip.
Stokes bowled three no balls in his first two overs before finding his rhythm as he prepares to return to the England squad for Friday’s second Test at Emirates Old Trafford.
Hameed was the first of two wickets to fall before lunch, with Alviro Petersen trapped lbw playing back to Scott Borthwick in the final over of the session.
Lancashire were five down by the time Procter reached his century off 235 balls, with both wickets going to off-spinner Adam Hickey as Steven Croft was caught at deep mid-on and Karl Brown held at short-leg.
Procter had enjoyed a life on 73, with Hickey playing a part as he failed to collect a throw from the cover region to the non-striker’s end with the left-hander well short of his ground.
On-loan Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper Tom Moores settled quickly at the crease on his first-class debut and he lofted Borthwick for a straight six before tea.
Procter and Moores shared 70 in 26 overs either side of tea before both fell in successive Borthwick overs as Lancashire fell to 283 for seven.
Procter inside-edged the leg-spinner to leg slip before Moores was run out for 35 by Paul Coughlin after Kyle Jarvis called for a quick single to cover.
Jarvis was then bowled by a Borthwick googly in the next over before Simon Kerrigan and Nathan Buck, who has come into the fixture for James Anderson following his England recall, took the Lancashire lead above 200.
Kerrigan edged Stokes behind for 19 before Buck pulled Borthwick for a six and four and then lofted him over long-on for another maximum as the lead approached 250, only for Matt Parkinson to then loop a catch up to short-leg off Stokes to wrap up the innings, with Buck finishing on 27 not out.