No Buster Keaton for Jennings as Lancashire take straight-laced route to Roses dominance

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Dour morning progress sets tempo as Yorkshire are made to pay for first-day errors

Lancashire 350 for 6 (Jennings 114, Wells 60; Thompson 3-64) lead Yorkshire 159 by 191 runs

“The test of a first-rate intelligence,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald, “is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” It may just be possible that one or two Yorkshire supporters who watched the second day of this Roses match now have a better idea what that peerless chronicler of the Jazz Age was on about.

They will, of course, have loathed the fact that Lancashire consolidated their already strong position in this game, courtesy of Keaton Jennings‘ first century in red-ball cricket since the Galle Test in 2018 and Luke Wells’ maiden first-class fifty for his new county. At the same time there was a gloriously eventless quality about Jennings and Wells’ 175-run partnership for the second wicket that even White Rose diehards might have appreciated. At least, they might have observed tartly, there were no damn-fool cut shots inside the first five overs, no Monty Python run-outs, no scoreboards from Hammer movies.

Instead of that ungodly stuff, balls were left alone or they were defended stoutly or they were nudged for singles as 57 runs were scored in the 31 overs of the morning session. Even Arthur “Ticker” Mitchell might have approved although that redoubtably miserable old bugger would have torn his heart out on the square at Park Avenue rather than admit as much.

The tempo of the contest was perfectly fitting for a contest still wreathed in tradition.

Until three wickets fell in the space of four overs deep in the afternoon session, the cricket was delightfully serene as Jennings and Wells laid the foundations of Lancashire’s dominance in over 66 overs of pure concentration and hard-learned technique. Within reason Lancashire’s batsmen were content to give Yorkshire’s fresh bowlers the first hour or two of play, secure in the knowledge that the final session would belong to their team if they could keep wickets in hand.

The two left-handers, both of whom are 6ft 4ins tall and take up their stances with their backsides jutting toward square leg, had a clear idea of the balls that required their attention and those that did not. After an hour’s batting Lancashire had scored 30 runs in 16 overs but there was no doubt which side was the happier. Patterson even tried to get the ball changed but the umpires had none of it. Later in the morning, Dom Bess held the ball between his index finger and thumb as though trying to distort its shape with the power of his will. Nothing worked. Yorkshire bowled decently in the morning session but they did not disturb the sangfroid of two batsmen who knew their roles better than any of Patterson’s specialist batsmen had known theirs.

When Jennings is out of form, his malfunctions look severe enough to end his career; when he bats as he did yesterday, he appears as well-organised, albeit unconventional, as most batsmen in the domestic game. It will not have bothered him a jot that Lancashire scored two fewer runs in four more overs than Yorkshire had managed in the first session of the game. That statistic was of little account when set beside the wicket count from the two mornings, 7-0 – or, indeed, the bonus point score at the end of the day: Lancashire: 6, Yorkshire: 1.

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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