When rain, which had wiped out Thursday's play, drowned yesterday's final two sessions as well, Lancashire led by just 10 runs with three wickets intact, including that of their captain Wasim Akram who is not out 23.
Another contrived finish today seems inevitable but, regardless of the outcome, Surrey are assured of heading the Championship table by at least 19 points following Durham's defeat by Yorkshire on Friday.
Glamorgan's undistinguished defence of the title continued yesterday when they lost by 140 runs to their immediate predecessors as Champions, Leicestershire, at Cardiff. Chris Lewis, another fast bowler still harbouring England ambitions, triggered Glamorgan's collapse with three early wickets and the slow left-armer Matthew Brimson polished them off for 144 with figures of 8-6-4-4.
Ronnie Irani hinted that his England career may be far from over with a brilliant unbeaten 127 which set up a thrilling one-wicket victory for Essex over Somerset at Bath. Despite excellent figures of 5 for 48 from the Somerset seamer Graham Rose, Irani farmed the bowling masterfully to steer Essex to their first win of the season.
While Essex were hauling themselves from the foot of the table, Hampshire, who had started second from bottom, were also indulging in some much-needed upward mobility in another exciting finish against the clock at Basingstoke. Half-centuries from John Stephenson, Adrian Aymes and Dimitri Mascarenhas saw Hampshire through to victory by five wickets over Derbyshire, whose captain and wicketkeeper Karl Krikken was rushed to hospital after being struck in his left eye by a delivery from Paul Aldred.
Abdul Hafeez, with a breezy 55 which belied his first-innings duck, led the way at Worcester as the home side beat Gloucestershire by a similar margin. The Worcestershire captain, Tom Moody, and Vikram Solanki then maintained the run chase to ensure that Hafeez's efforts were not in vain.
Another player to retire hurt was Middlesex's Justin Langer at Northampton. After cracking an unbeaten 55 in the visitors' first innings, the Australian left-hander's second knock had only just begun when he was hit on the head by a Franklyn Rose delivery. The game petered out as a draw after Middlesex, set 286, limped to 147 for 5.Reuse content