Clarke reprises domination of Red Rose
Rikki Clarke again showed his liking for Lancashire’s bowling with a second century of the season as the defending champions wilted under pressure from Warwickshire on the second day of the LV= County Championship match at Edgbaston.
Clarke followed up his 140 in last month’s win at Aigburth with an unbeaten 123 which took Warwickshire to 557 for six declared, beating their previous highest total against Lancashire of 532 for four made on their home ground in 1901.
Lancashire, who need 408 to avoid the follow-on, then buckled under scoreboard pressure and collapsed to 61 for five against accurate seam bowling.
The Red Rose made Warwickshire graft for their runs but there was little in the pitch for slow left-armers Gary Keedy and Simon Kerrigan, who bowled 99 overs between them with captain Glen Chapple restricted to just one over in the day by a side strain.
Lancashire may have kept it tight but they took only two wickets.
Darren Maddy chipped Keedy to mid-off trying to accelerate and secure a fourth batting point and Tim Ambrose was caught at short midwicket off Kerrigan, four short of his first century in almost three years.
Warwickshire’s slow initial progress ensured they claimed only three batting points but Clarke and Ambrose enlivened proceedings with a sixth-wicket stand of 147 in 43 overs.
Clarke was the main aggressor and his run-a-ball half-century included a lofted maximum over long-on off Keedy and a swept six off Kerrigan.
Clarke than swept Keedy for a flat six over the longest boundary and cleared the ropes for a fourth time shortly before Warwickshire declared.
Ambrose played a gritty and determined innings but he became edgy as he neared three figures and clipped to Stephen Moore trying to get there with a four.
England limited-overs all-rounder Chris Woakes helped Clarke pick up the scoring rate with an unbeaten 43 from 64 balls in his first innings of the season following his recovery from injury.
Kerrigan had to bowl 49 overs, the most he has ever bowled in an innings, for three expensive wickets before Warwickshire captain Jim Troughton ended the torment for Lancashire’s bowlers.
There was misery to follow for Lancashire’s batsmen. Paul Horton went lbw playing across the line to Keith Barker and Karl Brown edged a lifter from Woakes to Ambrose.
Chris Wright struck twice in successive overs when he switched to the Pavilion End, bowling Stephen Moore and having Steven Croft caught behind from a delivery that left him late.
Woakes then replaced Wright and struck a major blow when Luke Procter fell lbw in the day’s penultimate over.