Lincs CCC secure National Counties Eastern Division One draw at Staffs

Freeman pick of the Imp County bowlers...

Dan Freeman sends down a delivery. Photo: John Van-der-Vord

Lincolnshire CCC travelled to West Bromwich to face Staffordshire in the National Counties Eastern Division One.

Following a heavy defeat at Cleethorpes by Norfolk, Lincolnshire made three changes replacing Sam Johnson, Adam Tillcock and Danny Cliffe with Nic Keast, Louis Bhabra and Leicestershire batsman Hassan Azad.

Staffordshire, the 2019 Eastern Division Champions, were likely to provide a stern test - and so it proved.

On winning the toss the hosts elected to bat first.

Their innings was dominated by wicketkeeper Alex Mellor who, after two wickets had fallen for 80 runs, added 194 for the third wicket with Zen Malik.

Mellor eventually fell to Dan Freeman for 140 which included 19 fours. Freeman struck again to dismiss Malik for 96 to leave Staffordshire on 275 for 4.

Their four middle order batsmen each made twenties and by the end of their allotted overs they had reached a commanding 388for 7 and maximum batting points. Jordan Cook with 3 for 125 off 30 overs was Lincolnshire’s most successful bowler.

Lincolnshire made a steady start and reached 80 for 2.

Thereafter their innings collapsed dramatically as they lost eight wickets for 64 runs.

Only Hassan Azad showed any stern resistance, being last out for 42.

The innings had lasted less than 50 overs.

Despite a lead of 244, Staffordshire amazingly did not enforce the follow-on despite warnings of bad weather on day three.

Mellor was dismissed early on, but half-centuries by Liam Banks (61) and Zen Malik (54), together with a quickfire 41 not out by skipper Peter Wilshaw saw them reach 229 for 6 before declaring with a lead of 473.

Dan Freeman with 4 for 75 was Lincolnshire’s most successful bowler.

Lincolnshire’s only real hope was to bat out for a draw, and Joe Kendall and Jaden Fell set about the task putting on 58 before Fell was dismissed for 32.

Azad joined Kendall and by close of play on day two Lincolnshire were 82 for 1 off 31 overs.

Morning rain on day three caused a delayed start. When play resumed, a further nine overs were completed taking Lincolnshire’s total to 99 for 1 before play was abandoned and the match declared a draw.

Lincolnshire took seven points from the match and Staffordshire 12.

Lincolnshire’s next Championship match is against Cambridgeshire at March commencing on Sunday, August 1 (11 am start).