Croft calms Lancashire nerves
Lancashire managed to combat the threat of Alfonso Thomas and hold out for a draw against Somerset in their LV= County Championship Division One clash at Old Trafford.
Having won their opening two matches, Glen Chapple’s side were reduced to 145 for six in their second innings on the final afternoon.
With a meagre lead of 54 at that stage, their safety was far from guaranteed, so another half-century from all-rounder Steven Croft was key as he batted through the remainder of the day to keep Somerset at bay.
Lancashire’s eight-point haul leaves them 23 behind Roses rivals and leaders Yorkshire with a game in hand, while Somerset returned to Taunton 10 points better off.
The players shook hands at 5pm with Lancashire 221 for six after 90 overs. Croft finished 66 not out, which spanned 128 balls and included nine fours and a six.
Thomas claimed four of the six wickets to fall, including three for five runs in a 15-ball spell either side of lunch, and finished with a season’s best of 4-33 from 19 overs.
The South Africa-born seamer uprooted Luke Sutton’s middle stump in the 10th over of the day, and later bowled Paul Horton and forced Stephen Moore to chop on in consecutive overs to leave Lancashire wobbling on 97 for three in the 39th over.
Thomas would have had his fourth before the break had Marcus Trescothick not spilled a chance at first slip to get rid of South Africa batsman Ashwell Prince.
Thomas did not have to wait too much longer because he snared Prince with the first ball of the afternoon session, caught behind by Jos Buttler for three.
Leg-spinner Michael Munday took a wicket with his first ball of the innings - Mark Chilton caught at slip by Trescothick - before Damien Wright forced Kyle Hogg into a loose push which found Nick Compton at gully.
At that stage Lancashire were six down with 43 overs left in the match, but Croft and Chapple dug in to make the game safe with an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 76.
Croft kick-started his innings with a six over long-on off Munday before cutting and pulling effectively.
He reached a 94-ball half-century - his sixth in seven championship innings stretching back to the final game of last season - with a hooked four off left-arm seamer Charl Willoughby.
Chapple was happy to shelve his attacking instincts but still hit four boundaries on the way to 30 not out.
While Lancashire have a week off following Sunday’s Clydesdale Bank 40 match against Sussex at Hove, Somerset travel to the Rose Bowl to face Hampshire in the Championship after their 40-over meeting with the Unicorns at Taunton.