One of the best and most dramatic days in Lancashire’s season ended with Steven Croft’s team in prime position to beat Hampshire on the final day of the Specsavers County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford.
Having seen their batsmen compile a mammoth 595 for a first-innings lead of 198, the home supporters watched in delight as James Anderson took three wickets to help reduce Hampshire to 26-4. By the close they had struggled to 50-5.
Yet if Lancashire fans were toasting Anderson, they may have been raising even larger tankards to Dane Vilas, whose career-best 244 had played the major role in enabling his team to build a match-winning advantage.
Vilas began the day on 76 and was dropped off the second and third balls he faced from Brad Taylor. Sean Ervine grassed the first chance at slip and Michael Carberry dropped the second at mid-off but Vilas took full advantage.
He and Ryan McLaren had extended their partnership to 184 at lunch, setting a new sixth-wicket record for Lancashire against Hampshire.
Hampshire’s bowlers took three wickets in the afternoon session but those successes did not alter the course of the game. Lancashire’s batsmen had built a first-innings lead of 124 by tea and still had two wickets in hand with Vilas unbeaten on 194.
McLaren became the third Lancashire centurion when he hit Kyle Abbott for three successive leg-side fours but the former Hampshire all-rounder was lbw to Gareth Berg for 107 soon afterwards.
That ended McLaren’s 221-run partnership with Vilas, the fourth-highest sixth-wicket stand in the county’s history. McLaren’s century also ensured that this innings would be the first for 13 years in which three Lancashire batsmen have made centuries.
Hampshire enjoyed further success when Jordan Clark was leg before to Matt Salisbury for 24 and Stephen Parry was caught at short leg by Jimmy Adams off the persevering Brad Taylor. However, the off-spinner was hit for three sixes in a single over by Vilas as the South African cut loose in the evening.
Kyle Jarvis fell to Berg for 30 and Vilas was the last man out, caught at short third man by Ervine off Matt Salisbury for 244. He had batted 434 balls, faced 275 balls and hit 25 fours in addition to four sixes.
More drama followed as Anderson dismissed Jimmy Adams and Rille Rossouw for nought with successive deliveries and Kyle Jarvis bowled Carberry for 10.
Anderson had George Bailey leg before for 10 and the England seamer finished with 3-5 from eight overs.