Alviro Petersen’s 155 off 255 balls helped Lancashire avoid the follow on against Somerset but the Specsavers County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford is almost certainly heading for a draw with a slow, unresponsive pitch frequently defying the best efforts of all bowlers on both sides.
Replying to the visitors’ 553-8 declared, Lancashire were 422 for nine at stumps with Tom Bailey on 17 and Toby Lester undefeated on nought after the home side had survived the loss of three prime wickets for 17 runs soon after tea to reach their primary objective on what was sometimes a slow day.
The first of those wickets was that of Petersen, who inside-edged a catch off Tim Groenewald to Marcus Trescothick at slip, thus ending an innings that had included 17 fours and two sixes.
In the next over Steven Croft was caught at slip by Jim Allenby off Jack Leach for 58, and when Luke Procter was lbw to Craig Overton for two, Lancashire were 387 for six, still 17 short of their first target.
However, a nudged four by Tom Bailey off Leach ensured the follow-on was saved and although Lewis Gregory removed Jordan Clark and Kyle Jarvis in successive overs immediately afterwards and later added Simon Kerrigan to his bag, the main issue of the day had been resolved.
Saturday’s dismal weather forecast may bring the game to a rapid conclusion but even a full day’s play would almost certainly not bring a victory for either side. Both teams have taken five points from the game and these returns will be doubled to ten in the event of a draw.
The only wicket to fall in the morning session was that of Liam Livingstone, who was caught behind by Ryan Davies off Jack Leach for 57 when playing a most undistinguished front-foot paddle. That wicket fell on 213 after just over an hour’s play but Petersen batted through the session in a professional manner and was undefeated on 71 at lunch.
Steven Croft batted at number five and he added 157 in 50 overs with Petersen, a partnership which almost ensured that the follow on would be saved.
Lancashire lost no wickets in the afternoon session and were 360 for 3 at tea, the last over before which was bowled by the Somerset skipper, Chris Rogers.
During the afternoon session Petersen reached his third hundred of the season with a six off Jack Leach, having faced 170 balls and hit nine fours and two sixes. Lewis Gregory ended the day as the most successful Somerset bowler with three for 74, although Leach and Groenewald, both of whom took two wickets, had done most of the hard work during the third day.
At the end of the day, Lewis said: “It has been a tough day here, a long slog. The wicket is pretty placid to bat on as you can tell by the scores over the first three days but the boys have worked hard and stuck at it well. They controlled to run rate well and kept chipping away and in the end they got their reward.”
Lewis took his three wickets in successive overs about which he said: “I managed to burgle a couple at the end which was nice for me. The boys bowled beautifully all day but didn’t have a huge amount of luck, which was unfortunate.
“From this position it is going to be hard to force a result especially given how the wicket has played up to now, so it will be a case of bowling them out early and then see where we go from there.”
He added: “The forecast doesn’t look very good at all tomorrow so that could well affect proceedings, so we will have to wait and see.”