Ashwell Prince made his third hundred his three successive Championship innings against Kent as Lancashire enjoyed the best of the opening day of their LV= Division Two match against Rob Key’s side at Old Trafford.
The 37-year-old South African’s 172-ball 106 helped his side reach 317 for five against an attack which had stuck to its task well on what now looks a good batting wicket.
Prince has never scored less than fifty in a first-class match against Kent, against whom he now averages 118.4, but it will be the importance of his innings in the context of this match that most concerns him.
The veteran came to the crease in the middle of the morning session after his side had lost two wickets in two balls to take the shine off what otherwise could have been a fine morning for them.
First Luis Reece, having made 18, was caught by second slip Darren Stevens when Reece fenced at a Matt Coles delivery he did not need to play. Next ball Alviro Petersen departed for a duck when he was caught down the leg side by Sam Billings, also off Coles.
At lunch Steven Croft’s team were 81 for two after 31 overs with Paul Horton on 33 not out and Prince unbeaten on 17, but t he runs flowed in the afternoon session when the home side also lost two prime wickets in progressing to 221-4 off 64 overs at tea.
Having added 38 runs to his score off only 34 balls, Paul Horton was caught by wicketkeeper Sam Billings for 71 when attempting to square cut Adam Riley. That brought to an end the opener’s 98-run partnership for the third wicket with Prince.
However, the South African then added 75 runs for the fourth wicket with Steven Croft, who was caught by Riley at long leg for 37 when hooking Coles. That gave the Kent seamer his third wicket of a day in which his pace and bounce sometimes unsettled the batsmen
Prince reached his century off 157 balls with just five fours and two sixes but he was dismissed shortly afterwards when he punched Mitch Claydon straight to substitute fielder Charlie Hartley at short extra-cover.
By the close, though, the similarly resolute Alex Davies was unbeaten on 47 while Jordan Clark, who was making his first-class was 16 not out. Coles finished the day with three for 67 while the very promising Riley claimed one for 73 from 23 overs.
The day ended on an acrimonious note in the final over when bowler Ivan Thomas, fourth slip Sam Northeast and the Kent fielders confidently claimed a catch off Davies, only for the batsman to stand his ground and the umpires to rule in his favour.
On the morning of the game, regular Lancashire skipper Tom Smith was ruled out by a back problem, leaving Croft to lead the side. Brendan Nash was included in the Kent 11, replacing Fabian Cowdrey in the only change from the side which lost to Essex at Chelmsford.