Cricket: Lloyd's assault lifts Lancashire from last

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The Independent Online
Lancashire 373 & 425-5 dec Leicestershire 468 & 247-5 Match drawn

Set to score 331 to secure a win that would have taken them to the top of the Britannic Assurance table, champions Leicestershire wasted an opportunity here yesterday, reaching only 247 for 5 in 68 overs before giving up the ghost with three overs of the final hour still to go.

Although Vince Wells made up for the disappointment of being out for 95 on Friday by making his first century of the season, it was generally a dismal effort after Michael Atherton, Lancashire's acting captain, had offered what appeared a fair target with only 60 yards to the boundary on one side of the ground.

Earlier, Lancashire's Graham Lloyd had regularly cleared it in one hit on his way to what was briefly the fastest century of the season, made off only 73 balls. It is still the quickest authentic hundred, given that Nick Knight and David Hemp, both of whom bettered it at Southampton, were being offered easy hits.

To their credit, Lancashire, who move off the bottom of the table, bowled well, in particular their two spinners, Gary Yates and Gary Keedy, who were able to make life difficult for Leicestershire's batsmen with the pitch turning and a stiff cross-wind. Lancashire's fielding, too, had to be commended, with Lloyd and Ian Austin holding good catches.

But Leicestershire were probably too cautious at the start, where a little more aggression might have unsettled their opponents. Wells took almost three hours to make his runs and Neil Johnson, in contrast to the manner of his first-innings 150, became bogged down.

Although Leicestershire reached tea with only one wicket down, making 208 in the final session always looked a stiff order and one sensed before the end they had settled for 11 points, which keeps them in third place.

Lloyd, meanwhile, is making fast hundreds a speciality this season , having already hit one in 76 balls against Yorkshire and another in 77 against Durham.

There was no suggestion of cheap runs at Grace Road though. Indeed, Lloyd usually needed to pick the gaps carefully in Leicestershire's defensive fields. However, he avoided the hazards enough to clock up seven sixes, five of them off Gordon Parsons.