Lancashire 624 for 9 (Jennings 318, Wells 109, Bohannon 91, van der Merwe 5-174) lead Somerset446 (Goldsworthy 130, Rew 70 van der Merwe 55) by 178 runs
Some of those who watched Jennings flay Somerset’s bowling recall the first game between these sides at Southport. “There was a boy, ye knew him well, ye Cliffs and Valleys of Winander!” That match took place in 1966 when Ken Palmer’s century and seven wickets brought an innings victory and joy illimited to the West Country. Now they have fresh memories to set alongside their others and they feature a tall, ever-angular batsman destroying Somerset’s attack with cuts, pulls and drives that sent the ball into the gardens at Harrod Drive and agile boys climbing over the walls to recover it.
This meant that having sat down to watch the cricket at 11.00am, spectators had stood up to clap the hundred, plonked themselves down again, got up again to applaud Wells’ return to the pavilion and sat down once more, all in the space of twenty minutes. It was quite enjoyable, of course, but it did nothing for the hip replacements. The spectators little knew that they would be standing on half a dozen further occasions simply to salute Jennings.
The most notable of these was the triple-century, of course, which was reached late in the evening when Jennings pushed Tom Lammonby to midwicket for a single and yet another large Trafalgar Road crowd saluted him. They are already calling him the King of Southport on social media but that misses the humility of a cricketer who always puts his team first. And not only his team. When the usual photographs were being taken in front of the scoreboard Jennings insisted that the youngsters who had watched him bat should be included in them. He’s like that.
“It feels amazing but the main thing is we are in a nice position to push on and hopefully win the game tomorrow,” he said. “We have a good chance of really putting some pressure on Somerset and getting a nice win under our belt. The innings went in waves – last night I didn’t feel amazing and then today I went through ebbs and flows of scoring quickly and then reining it back.
“It’s one of those days you can look back on at the end of your career and realise it was special but at the moment it hasn’t quite sunk in and it just feels like a day in the dirt.”
Van der Merwe’s obvious pleasure as he took late wickets was in particular contrast to his reaction when he bowled Bohannon to leave Lancashire on 397 for 2 in mid-afternoon. He celebrated with a joyous tug of the waistband on his flannels. The day would get better for the South African off-spinner but nothing like as good as it would get for his Johannesburg-born countryman.
“It’s a special day and one I hope I look back on with a lot of pride – I’ll be honest I didn’t think I’d ever get a first-class 300 at any point. As a young lad you read about guys getting a 300 – Mike Hussey was a guy I looked up to as a player – but I never thought I’d ever get there so it is an amazing day.
“I’ve had some pretty low times in my career that have been fairly well documented so this is a special day – it’s a day I’ll hopefully smile about with my grandkids one day. A really good day personally and a really good day for the team – we shared a beer in the dressing room and that was really special.”
So all that remains for Lancashire is to somehow take ten wickets on a pitch where some batters have got out having a thrash but very few have been beaten all ends up by the bowlers. That would be a fine achievement but one doubts that children around here will remember it more clearly than Jennings’ strokes or being asked to join the triple-centurion in the photographs that celebrated one of the best days in his career. Cakes and ginger beer again on this most generous of summer days.