Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott deployed all their experience to ensure that the Specsavers County Championship match between Lancashire and Warwickshire at Emirates Old Trafford ended in a draw.
After Lancashire had declared on 266 for eight late in a morning session during which both Haseeb Hameed and Liam Livingstone had made centuries, the visiting batsmen showed no great interest in scoring the 312 runs they needed to win in a minimum of 72 overs.
When the players shook hands after 10 of the 16 mandatory overs in the last hour had been bowled, Warwickshire were 195 for two with Bell on 55 not out and Trott unbeaten on 50. Lancashire take 11 points from the game and remain top of the Division One table, while Warwickshire receive 10 points
Two wickets fell in the afternoon session but none at all after tea. Andy Umeed was caught at the wicket by Steven Croft off Kyle Jarvis for 17 when attempting a most inelegant cut and Varun Chopra was leg before wicket to a Matt Parkinson top-spinner for 48.
In the morning session, however, Hameed had reached three figures for the first time in his Lancashire career and Liam Livingstone made his second century of the season as Lancashire scored 96 runs in 90 minutes before declaring.
Hameed and Livingstone made predictably contrasting progress to their respective landmarks. Hameed reached his maiden century in 340 minutes and off 291 balls when he tucked a ball from Rikki Clarke backward of square on the leg side and scampered a couple of runs. He hit seven fours in the course of his innings.
Rather by contrast, Livingstone got to a hundred with a mighty six over long-on and then a straight-driven four off Clarke’s next ball. He faced 115 balls and reached his century in 181 minutes, hitting 12 fours and two sixes. His first-class average this season is now 97.8.
Sandwiched by these two warmly-applauded events was a rather happier over for Clarke, the 92nd of the innings, when the Warwickshire seamer took three wickets in four balls: first he trapped Hameed leg before with a full-length ball for 103; then he had Arron Lilley caught behind by Tim Ambrose first ball when the batsman swished at a short delivery; and Clarke completed his trio of wickets by then disturbing Neil Wagner’s stumps before the batsman had scored.
Clarke finished the innings with three for 54 while Keith Barker took three for 62.
A fascinating conclusion is in prospect at Emirates Old Trafford as Lancashire and Warwickshire both eye up victory on the final day of a compelling contest.
Lancashire closed the third day of their Specsavers County Championship tussle on 170 for five, 215 ahead, after spending the last two sessions in gradual advance on a slow pitch on which attempting to score briskly is a risky business.
With three spinners, including 19-year-old debutant Matt Parkinson who took 23.1-6-49-5 in the first innings, they will aim to exploit a turning pitch on the final day. But director of cricket Ashley Giles is well aware of the potential strength of his former club's batting - and that several big guns, notably Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, will be determined to respond after first-innings failures.
After a top-order collapse it was Tim Ambrose (70 not out, 163 balls, nine fours) and Keith Barker (64, 102 balls, eight fours, one six) to whom Warwickshire owed the bulk of their first innings 263. After the Bears resumed on the third morning on 202 for six, that pair took their partnership to 125, a seventh-wicket record for Warwickshire against Lancashire, before Barker fatally edged Tom Smith.
Parkinson then turned his debut from impressive to memorable by becoming the youngest Lancashire player to harvest a debut five-for. He removed Jeetan Patel, who top-edged a sweep to short fine-leg, and unfurled sharply-turning deliveries to bowl Boyd Rankin and Olly Hannon-Dalby.
Armed with a lead of 45, the home side adopted a patient approach second time round. From six without loss at lunch, they added 69 runs in 34 overs during the afternoon for the loss of only Smith who pulled Rankin to deep square-leg.
At 132 ahead with nine wickets in hand, Lancashire were heading for total command but Barker yanked Warwickshire back into the match with a burst of three wickets in 14 balls. The left-armer had Luke Procter caught at first slip and Alviro Peterson pouched at extra cover before Steven Croft edged to Ambrose to follow his first-innings century with a first-ball duck.
When Karl Brown nicked Patel to the wicketkeeper, four wickets had fallen for 17 runs in 29 balls but opener Haseeb Hameed's concentration remained total. The 19-year-old reached the close unbeaten on 81 (223 balls, five fours) and, with Liam Livingstone (39 not out, 64 balls, four fours, one six), added an unbroken 66 to tilt this see-sawing match back Lancashire's way.
Matt Parkinson enjoyed a memorable and somewhat surreal introduction to first class cricket as Lancashire and Warwickshire fought out an enthralling second day of their Specsavers County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford.
Warwickshire closed on 202 for six, having recovered from 94 for six, in reply to 308 as a captivating contest continues to twist and turn.
At the heart of the plot was Parkinson. Called on to bowl just before tea, the 19-year-old delivered three balls before an outbreak of noise from a faulty P.A system caused the umpires to take the players off the field while the problem was resolved.
When peace returned and cricket resumed, Parkinson, having begun his over at 3.37pm, concluded it at 4.06pm.
The Bolton youngster was not unsettled in the least. His ninth ball brought his first first-class wicket, Jonathan Trott, caught at slip, and his 25th removed Varun Chopra, caught behind.
Bowling with impressive control and appealing flight and loop, he ended the day with 18-4-39-2, just one ingredient in a day of many charming dimensions including a plethora of inflatable bananas among 3,500 schoolchildren present for a Schools Open Day.
Those youngsters saw Steven Croft reach his eleventh first-class century in the morning. The captain's dogged 100 (201 balls) lifted his side to 308, about par on a slow pitch.
After resuming on 196 for four Lancashire were taken to 234 without further loss by Croft and Karl Brown (61, 139 balls) but then lost their last six wickets for 74.
Brown was pinned lbw by Keith Barker, Croft tickled a leg-side catch to Tim Ambrose off Rikki Clarke and Arron Lilley offered Boyd Rankin a low return catch. Olly Hannon-Dalby removed Neil Wagner, also caught by the keeper down the leg side, Jarvis was lbw to a Rankin yorker and Parkinson was bowled by Jeetan Patel.
Warwickshire advanced smoothly to 54 without loss before Andy Umeed and Ian Bell edged successive balls from Jarvis and fell to superb slip-catches by Tom Smith and Liam Livingstone.
Parkinson ousted Trott and Chopra and when successive balls from Smith did for Sam Hain and Rikki Clarke, Warwickshire had lost six wickets for 40 runs in 13.5 overs. Lancashire were buzzing - but there was another twist as Ambrose (48, 101 balls) and Barker (57, 81) kept their side in the game with an unbroken stand of 108 up to the close of a wonderful day's cricket.
Captain Steven Croft supplied a dogged lead as Division One leaders Lancashire gritted their way forward on a rain-affected opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match against Warwickshire at Emirates Old Trafford.
After rain delayed the start until 2pm, with moisture in the air and on the grass, Warwickshire predictably exercised their right to bowl first and soon had the home side in trouble at six for two and then 91 for four.
Their attack applied pressure all day but Lancashire recovered to 196 for four at the close, thanks principally to Croft's unbeaten 82 (150 balls, eight fours, one six).
They could be crucial runs in what is expected to be a low-scoring match on a pitch expected to offer sharp turn later on. Lancashire were not too disappointed about batting first - they will bowl last with three spinners, including Matt Parkinson, a 19-year-old leg-spinner from Bolton, making his first-class debut.
Croft himself would be a fourth spin option but will again keep wicket in the absence of Jos Buttler (England duty) and the injured Alex Davies. He could yet follow up his valuable runs by executing his first stumping in his 137th first-class match.
After heavy overnight and morning rain the Old Trafford groundstaff did brilliantly to enable play by 2pm. Lancashire might have wished those gentlemen were slightly less efficient, however, when they lost both openers before 2.15pm. Keith Barker's seventh ball ousted Tom Smith, who drove expansively and edged to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose. Rikki Clarke's tenth, a yorker, trapped Haseeb Hameed lbw.
Without Chris Woakes (away with England) and Chris Wright (ruled out for at least a month by a side-strain), Warwickshire soon turned to Jeetan Patel who ended a third-wicket stand of 40 between Luke Procter and Alviro Petersen when the latter lapped the spinner's second ball into the hands of Sam Hain at short leg.
Immediately after tea, Patel uprooted Procter (36, 105 balls, five fours) with a beauty which lured the batsman down the track to supply Ambrose's 35th first-class stumping. Further wickets then would have left Lancashire's 100 per cent record at home in the championship this season in serious jeopardy but Croft and Karl Brown (an unbeaten 41, 98 balls, three fours) batted with great patience, leaving the ball judiciously, to add an unbeaten 105 and turn the game their team's way as a day which began with parts of the Old Trafford outfield underwater ended in glorious sunshine befitting the year's longest day.