FIRST the crawl and then John Crawley. Two days of sabre-rattling gave way to the rapier's thrust here, when the 22-year- old Lancashire batsman took a limited attack apart with a double century. Sweat and tears without the blood from Nottinghamshire's point of view.
And if that news was bad, the message from Hove of a Warwickshire win was hardly likely to lift the home side. Only victory over Lancashire will suffice if they are to maintain an interest in the Championship.
Crawley made sure of that as he built upon an overnight 79, steadily at first but then with increasing authority, to the point where he was treating the bowlers with disdain. No Chris Lewis, no Andy Pick and no contest as the scoreboard ticked over on a lovely, late summer's day. Having acquired a habit for large doubles during last winter's England A tour to South Africa, Crawley then helped himself to an unbeaten 281 off Somerset in May. This, though, was only the third occasion on which he has passed 100 this term.
Not that the information would be of any consolation to Nottinghamshire. Crawley carefully worked his way to three figures and then cut loose. He reached his third 50 off 59 deliveries, 11 of which were sent to the boards.
What did elude him, though, was a century in the opening session, Warren Hegg, his partner, blocking out the final over to leave him two short. Still, it was a minor matter for a cricketer of rich promise, whose next objective must be to make runs for England.
As for Lancashire, they contented themselves with a 500-plus total and a lead of more than 300 thanks to a seventh-wicket partnership of 235 between Hegg - who celebrated his first half-century of the season - and Crawley, who eventually holed out to Tim Robinson, the suffering Nottinghamshire captain, for 250.
Robinson's tribulations did not end there. First he was bowled, by Glen Chapple, for two, and then he had to witness his side's steady fall to a pathetic closing score: six wickets down, 243 runs adrift.Reuse content