Cricket: Lancashire inspired by Crawley

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JOHN CRAWLEY led Lancashire Lightning to the CGU National League title at Old Trafford yesterday with an all-round display to help beat Kent Spitfires by five wickets.

Needing victory against Kent and their nearest rivals, Worcestershire Royals, to lose against Hampshire Hawks, events worked out in Lancashire's favour as they took their eighth one-day trophy of the decade.

Crawley had been forced to take over behind the stumps from Warren Hegg after the latter suffered a painful blow to the mouth. Crawley then claimed three stumpings as Kent were restricted to 198 for 7.

When Lancashire batted Crawley hit an unbeaten 85 to help his county to victory with two overs to spare. Hegg helped Crawley secure the win, arriving at the crease with Lancashire needing 55 runs from the last 10 overs. The wicketkeeper hit an unbeaten 19.

Lancashire had a 20-minute wait before news filtered through of Worcestershire's demise. The title earns them pounds 53,000 in prize money. Victory in their final championship match at Taunton will guarantee a further pounds 45,000 by finishing as runners-up.

Their success represents an outstanding first season as captain for Crawley. "I'm very proud of the way everybody has performed and conducted themselves throughout the season," Crawley said. "Every player has worked hard and senior players like Neil Fairbrother, Peter Martin and Michael Atherton have also contributed to the success as well as Warren Hegg as the vice-captain."

Worcestershire had reasons for optimism after scoring 236 for 7 from their 45 overs at Southampton, but their hopes were ended by Hampshire's batsmen. Dimitri Mascarenhas led the way with a sparkling 79 as Hampshire reached their target with nine balls to spare.

Craig White helped Yorkshire Phoenix to end their relegation fears at Headingley. He hit a quick 43 and then took four for 39 as Yorkshire beat Warwickshire Bears by 28 runs.

Nasser Hussain hit 14 boundaries in an innings of 86 as Essex Eagles secured only their third National League win of the season to put Gloucestershire Gladiators' First Division future in doubt. Hussain had to bat with a runner after receiving two painful blows to the hand.