A Llong day

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The Independent Online
LANCASHIRE'S captain, Mike Watkinson, pinpoints mental toughness as the key factor which can convert his band of artists into championship- winning artisans. The combination of the unsettling effect of Test calls and, eventually, the weather has left Lancashire just off the pace in the title run-in.

The England off-spinner explained: "We have won the majority of our games when there have been Test matches. But we need to be mentally tougher in games when players come back exhausted from Test duty. The thing we are trying to work on is improving that extra 10 per cent on what we do at the moment."

That ability to summon up reserves of resilience was put to an extreme test on an impish pitch and in a game half drowned when slow drainage, following flash floods and steady rain earlier in the week, prevented any play for the first two days. Another hour was lost yesterday morning and, although Kent held back Martin McCague for today's crucial 40-over game, the Kent attack proved a handful in helpful conditions.

Jason Gallian struggled to cope with movement off the pitch and was trapped leg before by a full-length ball from the impressive Alan Igglesden. John Crawley also looked to have half a mind on winter touring when he clipped an innocuous delivery into square leg's hands.

Neil Fairbrother injected some necessary panache while Mike Atherton again studiously revelled in a middle-order slot against Kent's persistent and adventurous spin attack of Min Patel and Nigel Llong. Turn was consistent, though rarely alarming, accounting for the last six Lancashire wickets to fall and is likely to be a key factor should a manufactured result prove possible.

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