Duo dig deep for Red Rose

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Tom Smith and Gareth Cross helped relegation-threatened Lancashire recover from 11 for four on the first day of their LV= County Championship Division One match against Durham at Aigburth.

Cross made 57 - his highest championship score in 12 innings - while Smith was 86 not out at the close, when the Red Rose had reached a very respectable 221 for six.

Kyle Hogg was also unbeaten on 36, his unbroken seventh-wicket stand with Smith having yielded 91.

Smith’s effort was in stark contrast to his record-breaking Clydesdale Bank 40 century against Worcestershire on Bank Holiday Monday.

In the 40-over match, the injury-plagued all-rounder made 106 off only 46 balls, but faced 123 deliveries in reaching fifty against Durham and batted for over four hours in all.

Before today’s 177-ball innings, Smith had made just 17 runs in five championship innings this season and his highest first-class score for over a year could not have been better timed for a team who probably need to win two of their last three matches to have a chance of staying in the top-flight.

Tom Smith

Tom Smith provided the outstanding contribution of Lancashire's impressive comeback today, finishing on 86 not out versus Durham

Opting to bat, Lancashire were soon in trouble against England seamer Graham Onions, who took 3-15 in an outstanding eight-over spell from the River End.

Onions struck first in the fifth over when he bowled Paul Horton for three, the opener playing no stroke to a ball that clipped the off stump.

Karl Brown followed eight balls later for a duck when he edged Chris Rushworth to second slip, after which Luke Procter’s drive off Onions found the safe hands of Borthwick.

Steven Croft defended gamely for 11 balls before losing his off stump to an Onions delivery that kept low, but fears Lancashire would beat their lowest total of the season - 63 against Worcestershire - proved unfounded.

First, Smith and Ashwell Prince saw off the new-ball attack, taking the total to 58 until the latter top-edged a pull off Ben Stokes straight to Mark Stoneman at deep square-leg.

Cross and Smith then took the score beyond three figures and blunted the threat of the visiting attack with a 72-run sixth-wicket partnership.

Cross had hit six boundaries in his 79-ball innings when he played over the top of a full-length ball from Stokes, but Hogg continued the counter-attack in enterprising fashion.

Onions was easily the pick of the bowlers, finishing with 3-26 off 20 overs, while Stokes took 2-60 from 13.

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