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Lancashire outclass MCC rivals

Graham Hardcastle in Abu Dhabi
March 29, 2012 « Europa League - Live updates and scores | Chartbeat test »
Lancashire 199 (Chapple 42*, Naved-ul-Hasan 3-31) and 152-4 (Horton 58, Procter 47) beat MCC 266 (Blackwell 102*, Kerrigan 4-65) and 84 (Kerrigan 3-28) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Steven Croft is bowled by Lewis Gregory as Lancashire are bowled out for 199 © Graham Morris
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The jury is still out on the viability of playing day/night Test cricket with the pink ball, though John Stephenson, the MCC's head of cricket, believes a match played under such conditions may not be too far away if the game's administrators are willing to "take a leap of faith".

Stephenson had just witnessed the third edition of the champion county fixture to be played under lights at the Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi - a match that was won comfortably by Lancashire with six wickets and four-and-a-half sessions to spare as they pursued a victory target of 152 with confidence.

"Personally, I think it's a viable form of the game already if all the conditions are right," Stephenson said. "Somewhere like Abu Dhabi ticks all the boxes. I think we have to conduct experiments around the world but if they did take the plunge, in the right sort of environment where they're looking to stimulate attendance, I think it could work."

The general consensus from the Lancashire party was that they enjoyed the experience, although coach Peter Moores and captain Glen Chapple believed work still needs to be done on various issues, from the condition of the Kookaburra ball to playing in twilight.

The twilight period on day two proved to be crucial in determining the outcome of the game, with the MCC relinquishing their grip by losing their last eight second-innings wickets for just 28 runs on the way to being bowled out for only 84, after they had gained a first-innings lead of 67.

Simon Kerrigan, Lancashire's left-arm spinner, was the man to profit as he claimed three wickets in a late burst to dramatically alter the contest's course before adding a fourth on Thursday morning. Kerrigan's second four-wicket haul in three days contributed to overall figures of 8 for 96.

"If you think about any period of play in a match where it's difficult, cricketers usually find a way of overcoming it," said Stephenson. "If it's such an issue, and the clever minds in the game feel it's compromising the integrity, it definitely needs to be thought out.

"There's definitely ways of changing the timings, though. For instance, here, you're looking at 6 to 6.30pm for sunset, and you could quite easily schedule a break so that you could go from playing in broad daylight to night time. There's possibilities.

"But would you want to address that? We're always talking about giving something to the batsmen whereas twilight gives something to the bowlers. I wouldn't want to face Shaun Tait or Brett Lee with a brand new pink ball at that time of the day. Then again, I wouldn't like to face Malcolm Marshall at 11am on a green one in England."

Lancashire were indebted to a third-wicket partnership of 98 between Horton and allrounder Luke Procter, who added a valuable 47 to a century against MCC Young Cricketers earlier in the tour. Horton, who achieved the unusual feat of topping 1,000 Championship runs without recording a century in 2011, top-scored with 58 after Lancashire had slipped to 11 for 2 midway through the first session.

"It was a great performance," Chapple said. "We were behind in the game, but we fought all the way and turned it around. To come out on top against a top quality side is great for us.

"It was really good fun being here. It was a different kind of cricket to what we're used to, and I think it's probably too early to say whether the experiment will work or not. From my point of view, it definitely produced a good game of cricket."

Moores added: "If I'm being honest, you could do with a better pink ball, one that behaves more like the red one. I don't know whether that's possible. I definitely think there's work to be done because I didn't find it easy to see from a spectating point of view.

"I can see the merits of playing at this time of day in countries where they don't get good crowds, but we're lucky in England because we sell out our Test matches. It's not a real concern for us. I do think the concept's a good one, though, and credit to the MCC for driving it forward."

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