Lancashire and England are sweating on the fitness of Jimmy Anderson after he pulled up with a groin injury during the early stages of the Roses match at Emirates Old Trafford.
Anderson had helped the hosts make an excellent start to this Specsavers County Championship fixture with a catch at third slip and the wicket of Alex Lees as Yorkshire slipped to 9-2 inside five overs.
But the 34-year-old seamer then had to leave the field clutching his right groin midway through his sixth over, the eleventh of the innings, and he did not return as Yorkshire closed on 251-6 from 96.
“Jimmy’s got a tight groin,” said Lancashire coach Glen Chapple. “He felt some pain and came off with it. He’s had ice on it all afternoon and I think he will be assessed in the morning. Fingers crossed he won’t be feeling it, but we’ll have to see.
“He walked off alright, but we’ll see how he is tomorrow. If he’s still feeling it, he will probably need a scan.
“I thought we had a great start with the two early wickets. We made it difficult for Yorkshire to score. The pitch is fairly slow but seemed to get better and better to bat on. At 180-6, we would have liked a little bit more out of the day. But, all in all, I think it’s about par.”
The early concern for Lancashire was having to make do with two specialist seamers and two specialist spinners for the rest of the day.
But Ryan McLaren and Stephen Parry ensured they did not miss Anderson too badly by sharing three wickets.
In terms of England, their first Test comes against South Africa in seven weeks’ time in early July.
Yorkshire’s in-form captain Gary Ballance was their standout performer with 74, taking his tally of 50 plus scores this season to a remarkable 10 in 15 innings.
Jack Leaning also hit 54 not out from 175 balls and Andrew Hodd unbeaten on 41 off 61.
Ballance hit eleven fours in 163 balls, and he now has scored 1,101 runs in all cricket this season.
Yorkshire elected to bat upon winning the toss.
But they were under the cosh quickly against a Lancashire side also missing seamer Kyle Jarvis with a broken thumb and all-rounder Jordan Clark with a back problem.
Adam Lyth edged Tom Bailey to Anderson at third slip in the fourth over.
Anderson then bowled Lees as he offered no stroke to an in-swinger in the next, meaning Yorkshire had lost their first two wickets in three balls.
Ballance found an ally in Australian overseas batsman Peter Handscomb as they began the recovery against a tidy Lancashire attack.
They shared 81 inside 33 overs either side of lunch for the third wicket. Ballance reached 50 off 107 balls just before the lunch interval.
He lost Handscomb shortly afterwards as he was trapped lbw by McLaren for 29 as the score fell to 90-3 in the 37th over.
Ballance was next to go when he miscued a widish Bailey delivery to mid-off as the partnership with Leaning fell two short of 50 to leave Yorkshire at 138-4 in the 56th.
Leaning and Tim Bresnan both hit the left-arm spin of Simon Kerrigan down the ground for sixes in the early stages of their innings.
Leaning’s was hit arrow straight and Bresnan’s lofted over long-on as the visitors reached tea at 155-4.
McLaren gained further reward for his endeavour shortly after tea when, with 159 on the board for Yorkshire in the 67th over, he bowled Bresnan with one that kept low and nipped back.
Azeem Rafiq was put down on one by Liam Livingstone at slip in McLaren’s next over. But he pulled Parry to mid-wicket as Yorkshire fell to 178-6 in the 74th.
With Leaning approaching his first half century in either the Championship or the Royal London Cup, Lancashire delayed taking the second new ball until the 86th over.
Unfortunately for them, the tactic did not work as Leaning and Hodd enjoyed Yorkshire’s most productive period of the day.
Leaning reached 50 off 146 balls with a pulled six off Bailey, and Hodd will hope to join him this morning. They have shared 73 unbroken.
“We’re a bit disappointed that we didn’t get a few more partnerships early on,” said Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale. “We feel it’s a decent pitch. It’s going to deteriorate, hence why we batted first. But Jack Leaning showed his quality there. It’s been a while coming and hopefully he can kick on tomorrow.
“He hasn’t looked out of nick. He just needed a score. Hopefully this will kick-start his season. We all know what he’s capable of.
“It looked like it was swinging a bit early doors. The lads dug in well and got us a decent end to the day.”