An unbroken third-wicket stand of 129 between Alex Davies and Liam Livingstone helped restore Lancashire’s fortunes on the second day of this Specsavers County Championship against Somerset at Emirates Old Trafford.
After dismissing Somerset for 278, in which Dean Elgar carried his bat for 113, Lancashire were 23 for two when the pair began their stand, but by the close they had taken their side to 152 for two, thus leaving a deficit of 17 runs.
Davies was 78 not out at stumps while Livingstone had completed his second half-century of the match and was undefeated on 57.
This position represented prosperity indeed, given the home side had conceded a lead of 169 to a dynamic performance from the visiting batsmen just after lunch.
Indeed, Somerset had enjoyed an outstanding morning and were 276-9 at lunch, thus giving Tom Abell’s men an impressive lead with one wicket in hand.
The visitors’ opener, Elgar, reached a quite superb century with a two to backward square-leg off James Anderson just before the interval. The South African had batted 328 minutes when he reached the landmark, faced 205 balls and hit 11 fours.
Elgar also passed 10,000 first-class runs when he reached 71 but his efforts were hardly less meritorious than those of the Somerset No. 10, Jack Leach, who made his maiden first-class fifty before being caught by wicketkeeper Davies off Jordan Clark for 52.
By then, though, Leach had put on 96 with Elgar and had built what may yet become a match-winning lead for his side. Several of his eight boundaries were fine cricket shots, although this was a morning which is unlikely to make the Lancashire bowlers’ end of season video package.
In the home side’s defence it might be pointed that the fresher atmosphere and bright sunlight made batting a far easier proposition on Saturday than it had been when Liam Livingstone’s team were bowled out for 109.
In the afternoon session, Lancashire lost two prime wickets but that was the prelude to Davies and Livingstone undertaking the long fight to restore their fortunes in the evening session. Both Haseeb Hameed and Luke Procter having fell to Lewis Gregory, with only 23 runs on the board at which point Lancashire’s chances of even avoiding in innings defeat seemed in the balance.
Hameed was caught at slip by Peter Trego for seven when playing uncharacteristically far from his body and Procter had his off stump tickled when he played inside a good ball from the Somerset seamer.
Elgar said afterwards: "This is my best contribution for Somerset and it was good to get runs in tough conditions. We were in trouble and the Lancashire attack exploited the conditions well. It required a very good gameplan and it was one of those situations when, if you played and missed, you had to dust yourself off and concentrate on the next ball.
"Jack Leach played well but he has that potential to do so. He’s a decent batter who has been working hard at his game. The wicket seemed to flatten out towards the end of play but it’s a pitch which is always going to offer something to the bowlers. Ryan McLaren put a lot of the balls in good areas and it’s always good fun playing against competitive individuals like Jimmy Anderson.
"He’s world class and he’s always going to have something to say but I also am not going to back down from a fight."