Josh Bohannon’s maiden ton steers Lancashire to brink of promotion

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Lancashire 269 for 2 (Bohannon 150*, Livingstone 70*) lead Derbyshire 244 (Godleman 111, Gleeson 5-64) by 25 runs

Since marking his Championship debut in 2018 with a half-century at The Oval against a rampant Surrey, Lancashire have struggled to know quite what to do with the prodigious talents of Bolton-born allrounder Josh Bohannon.

Well wonder no more. Moved up and down the batting order throughout this season, 22-year-old Bohannon entered the stage late on the first day at the fall of the Red Rose’s first wicket and was still there around the same time 24 hours later, having compiled his debut first-class century and put his county in pole position to beat Derbyshire and claim promotion back to county cricket’s top flight. Three was indeed the magic number.

Bohannon’s brilliant knock dominated a day during which Derbyshire’s lacklustre efforts with the ball yielded just a single wicket as they meekly conceded a first-innings lead with none of the fight their skipper Billy Godleman had shown in making a battling century on the first day at Emirates Old Trafford.

Early morning rain gave the visitors a helping hand in taking time out of the game, but once play resumed at 1.40pm, Derbyshire needed their bowlers to step up too. That they comprehensively failed to do so was in no small part down to Bohannon, who alongside opener Keaton Jennings, made steady progress throughout the afternoon session.

Jennings, who has enjoyed another stuttering season in his quest to return to the England fold, was the only wicket to fall before tea, when he misjudged a sharply spinning delivery from Hamidullah Qadri and watched in horror as his off stump was knocked back. Jennings had made 38 and played his part in a second-wicket partnership of 63 with Bohannon, who reached his fifty from 107 balls with seven fours and one six as the Derbyshire attack was slowly ground down during an increasingly chastening session.

Progress had been slow previously, but the introduction of Liam Livingstone provoked a change in pace with both players on the attack as the fifty partnership was reached in 45 balls with Bohannon unbeaten on 69 at tea alongside Livingstone on 22 not out.

While Livingstone was typically belligerent after the break, it was Bohannon who became the main aggressor as the pair reached their century partnership from 120 balls before the latter reached his own personal milestone from 173 balls with 15 fours, two sixes and one giant leap of celebration.

If Derbyshire had any fight left it was soon distinguished as Bohannon and Livingstone sailed past the 150 partnership for the third wicket with Lancashire’s former captain bringing up his own half-century from 68 balls before the pair posted the county’s highest partnership this season when they reached 153.

Barely a half-chance had presented itself all day and considering Derbyshire endured a scruffy afternoon in the field, summed up the unfortunate Ravi Rampaul performing a painful splits at mid-off at one point, it’s doubtful they would have even have taken it.

At around 5.30pm, Lancashire moved into the lead, knowing that matching or bettering Glamorgan’s result would mean promotion. With Livingston unbeaten on 70, a lead of 25 with eight wickets in hand and the third-wicket partnership totalling 194, it feels like an inevitability. For Bohannon, who reached his 150 just before the close, it would be an achievement to savour.