Gloucestershire 252 (Harris 67, Dent 52, Higgins 51*, Hasan 6-47) and 67 for 3 (Hammond 24*) trail Lancashire556 for 7 dec (Bohannon 231, Vilas 139, Wells 59) by 237 runs
No game offers a greater range of contrasts than cricket. Think Daniel Vettori and Brett Lee; Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Virender Sehwag; a Test match at Hamilton and another at The Oval; Edgbaston on the evening of the Vitality Blast final and Arundel on the morning of a Championship match. Or pick your own people, places and times, and then reflect that in many respects, cricket’s capacity for inclusion in limitless.
So much was clear at Emirates Old Trafford on the third day of this match, when a tea interval lasting a mere twenty minutes bridged passages of play that could hardly have been more different. In the first Lancashire scored runs with merry freedom as they rattled up their highest total against Gloucestershire.
The day ends with Luke Wells bowling leg-spin and Gloucestershire still 237 runs shy of making Lancashire bat again. A week ago Vilas’s cricketers needed four wickets to beat Kent and it took a long day’s work at Canterbury before they managed it. Their coach returned to Manchester at half past one on Easter Monday. Tomorrow they need seven wickets but Graeme van Buuren’s remaining batters will have to sustain a comparable rearguard to add eight points to the three they have already gained. Suddenly the morning’s play seems distant, indeed, almost as though it belonged to a different game.
For the temper of this third day had begun much as the second evening had ended: Vilas manufactured run-scoring opportunities when none appeared available while Bohannon batted on without sign of perturbation. The Lancashire captain reached his fifty off 51 balls while his young apprentice passed 150 for the third time in his career. Gohar replaced Ajeet Dale and the improvement was immediately apparent, not least in body language.
It became the sort of session when batters cash in. If run-scoring was not easy, it seemed so. There was no pressure. Landmarks were ticked off like items on a shopping list. The most significant were reached in the two overs before lunch when Bohannon pushed van Buuren into the off side to reach the first double-century of his career and Vilas made room to cut Gohar to the boundary, thus completing his second century of this youthful season. That was an effective counter to the left-arm spinner’s tactic of bowling on or outside leg stump in order to throttle the run rate. Umpire Steve O’Shaughnessy had already offered his own response to this strategy by twice signalling wides. So no wickets fell for the third morning in succession, a fact which was particularly grieving to Gloucestershire given that they thought Bohannon had been caught at the wicket off Gohar when he was 184. However, O’Shaughnessy was as immune to their appeals as the snood-wearing Richard Illingworth had been on Friday and the visiting bowlers may have observed tartly at luncheon that scoring 200 runs is easier when you get three innings.
At least van Buuren’s bowlers gained some rewards for their labours in the afternoon session. Having put on 203 for the fourth wicket with Bohannon, Vilas slapped Shaw to Miles Hammond at cover and departed for 109. It is the first time he has been dismissed in a first-class innings between 100 and 120, a seemingly inconsequential statistic but one that reflects the Lancashire’s captain’s habitual determination to bat on once he has reached three figures.
Next over Bohannon was gone for 231 when he gloved a sweep off van Buuren and Bracey took the catch. Hasan hit a six and a four before skying a catch to Ryan Higgins and we spent the remainder of the innings watching Lamb clouting the ball to all parts while Zafar’s 65 overs equalled the record for the number of balls delivered by a Gloucestershire cricketer against Lancashire. That mark was set by Tom Goddard at Ashley Down in Bristol in 1938 and by the time Vilas called off his dogs at tea, only five bowlers had sent down more balls for Gloucestershire in any first-class innings, the most recent of them being that brilliant slow left-armer and grumpy Bolshevik, Charlie Parker, at Fry’s Ground in Bristol in 1927.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications