Lancashire 624 for 9 (Jennings 318, Wells 109, Bohannon 91, van der Merwe 5-174) lead Somerset446 (Goldsworthy 130, Rew 70 van der Merwe 55) by 178 runs
Days like this foster a sense of unreality. Men and women go through their lives hoping to rediscover the innocence of childhood and its idyllic experiences on blue summer days. There is, of course, no need for cricket to play any part in such quests but individual scores like Keaton Jennings’ 318 connote consumption on the grandest scale. Cakes and ginger beer, indeed. In no time at all we are tugged contentedly back to that time before form-filling and responsibilities when we rarely wondered who paid for our food and clothes.
Some of those who watched Jennings flay Somerset’s bowling recall the first game between these sides at Southport. “There was a boy, ye knew him well, ye Cliffs and Valleys of Winander!” That match took place in 1966 when Ken Palmer’s century and seven wickets brought an innings victory and joy illimited to the West Country. Now they have fresh memories to set alongside their others and they feature a tall, ever-angular batsman destroying Somerset’s attack with cuts, pulls and drives that sent the ball into the gardens at Harrod Drive and agile boys climbing over the walls to recover it.
Of course, there were records, oodles of them. Jennings’ 318 – he was caught at long-on by Peter Siddle off Roelof van der Merwe in the final over of the day – is the fourth-highest individual score in Lancashire’s history and the best since Neil Fairbrother made 366 against Surrey at The Oval in 1990. It is also the highest individual score between these teams at Trafalgar Road, and while that mark may seem trivial on an evening when the county’s all-time records have been rewritten, it might be remembered that many thought they’d never see anyone make more than the 281 not out John Crawley levied off Andrew Hayhurst’s Somerset attack in 1994.
That, too, was an afternoon of blessed memory but it has now been joined by “Jennings’ Match”, one in which he scored 257 runs in a single day, hitting 26 fours and four sixes in his entire innings. And of course, achievements like that dwarf all others. For example, Luke Wells reached his century off the second ball of the morning; an edged four through gully off Siddle. But four overs later, Brooks tailed one in to the opener and Wells’ jab down on it thick-nicked a catch to Steve Davies behind the stumps.
This meant that having sat down to watch the cricket at 11.00am, spectators had stood up to clap the hundred, plonked themselves down again, got up again to applaud Wells’ return to the pavilion and sat down once more, all in the space of twenty minutes. It was quite enjoyable, of course, but it did nothing for the hip replacements. The spectators little knew that they would be standing on half a dozen further occasions simply to salute Jennings.
The most notable of these was the triple-century, of course, which was reached late in the evening when Jennings pushed Tom Lammonby to midwicket for a single and yet another large Trafalgar Road crowd saluted him. They are already calling him the King of Southport on social media but that misses the humility of a cricketer who always puts his team first. And not only his team. When the usual photographs were being taken in front of the scoreboard Jennings insisted that the youngsters who had watched him bat should be included in them. He’s like that.
Luke Wells, Keaton Jennings bite huge chunk out of Somerset's first-innings total
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Keith Barker, Mohammad Abbas hasten Warwickshire towards defeat
Ben Foakes left high and dry as Surrey, Yorkshire remain locked in battle
Unbeaten Ryan Rickelton century sets up tense final day
“It feels amazing but the main thing is we are in a nice position to push on and hopefully win the game tomorrow,” he said. “We have a good chance of really putting some pressure on Somerset and getting a nice win under our belt. The innings went in waves – last night I didn’t feel amazing and then today I went through ebbs and flows of scoring quickly and then reining it back.
“It’s one of those days you can look back on at the end of your career and realise it was special but at the moment it hasn’t quite sunk in and it just feels like a day in the dirt.”
If so, one wonders what it feels like for Josh Bohannon, whose innings of 91, his first score above fifty since late April, is now barely a footnote to events. And what it feels like for Somerset’s bowlers, among them Matt Renshaw, who took 3 for 29 when Lancashire’s tail had a slog late in the day, or for van der Merwe, whose 5 for 174 in 40.2 overs does not look too special until one realises that it was the first five-wicket haul of the 37-year-old’s career.
Van der Merwe’s obvious pleasure as he took late wickets was in particular contrast to his reaction when he bowled Bohannon to leave Lancashire on 397 for 2 in mid-afternoon. He celebrated with a joyous tug of the waistband on his flannels. The day would get better for the South African off-spinner but nothing like as good as it would get for his Johannesburg-born countryman.
“It’s a special day and one I hope I look back on with a lot of pride – I’ll be honest I didn’t think I’d ever get a first-class 300 at any point. As a young lad you read about guys getting a 300 – Mike Hussey was a guy I looked up to as a player – but I never thought I’d ever get there so it is an amazing day.
“I’ve had some pretty low times in my career that have been fairly well documented so this is a special day – it’s a day I’ll hopefully smile about with my grandkids one day. A really good day personally and a really good day for the team – we shared a beer in the dressing room and that was really special.”
So all that remains for Lancashire is to somehow take ten wickets on a pitch where some batters have got out having a thrash but very few have been beaten all ends up by the bowlers. That would be a fine achievement but one doubts that children around here will remember it more clearly than Jennings’ strokes or being asked to join the triple-centurion in the photographs that celebrated one of the best days in his career. Cakes and ginger beer again on this most generous of summer days.