Teenager Dan Lawrence saves match for Essex in opening draw with Lancashire
- Credit: PA
Dan Lawrence batted throughout the final day to post the fifth first-class century of his career and earn Essex a draw in their opening Division One Specsavers County Championship match.
It was a result that had looked beyond them for much of the four days at Chelmsford.
Essex had been set an improbable 478 to win. Otherwise they had to bat through four sessions plus seven overs to save the game and prevent Lancashire winning for only the first time in 12 Championship matches.
That they did so was largely down to a mature innings from the 19-year-old Lawrence, a player tipped for England honours in the not-too-distant future. He did his case no harm here.
Lawrence was out in the middle for all but the first 21 overs of Essex’s second innings. He had come in at the fall of Varun Chopra’s wicket the previous evening when Essex had slumped to 52 for two, still 425 short of the target.
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An obdurate third-wicket partnership of 135 with Tom Westley set the tone for the day. When Westley’s tenacious 190-ball innings ended half-an-hour after lunch, Essex had used up 58 valuable overs and the impossible had become possible. However, his departure heralded a mini-collapse that was only steadied when Ryan ten Doeschate came in and helped Lawrence put on 102 for the sixth wicket.
Lawrence finished on 141, having batted for 333 balls and hitting 18 boundaries.
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He said: “He said: “It’s the favourite of my five centuries because I managed to bat all day and get the team out of a hole.
“I didn’t do it all alone, there were fantastic efforts from the other boys. Tom Westley played beautifully at the start of the day. The skipper came in and played fantastically well. And then Simon Harmer at the end, with a bit of pressure on him, played wonderfully as well.
“But I think it is quite important not to celebrate a draw. We had our backs up against the walls, it was a tough first three days, and it took a lot of character today from the boys to fight through and get a draw. Personally, it is very satisfying, but we will look to push on and get a win next week at Taunton.”
Lawrence had a battle with Jimmy Anderson, England’s top wicket-taker of all time. He said: “There were a few words of encouragement from Jimmy! No, he didn’t have much to say, to be fair. They were trying to get me out as hard as they could and I was trying to survive.
“They have a fantastic bowling attack so we knew if myself or Tom or Ryan got out they were going to lump on loads of pressure. So it was important to concentrate all through the day and I had a lot of help throughout and it was fantastic.”