MICHAEL WATKINSON, a native Lancastrian, did not even manage a hat-trick in the school yard. Yesterday, he achieved one for the first time in his life - on a Test ground. Essex, the Championship leaders, having seen off Nottinghamshire, must have sniggered at the struggle of Warwickshire.
Watkinson, now aged 31, dismissed Roger Twose and Dominic Ostler, both leg-before with the last two balls of an over, and bowled Trevor Penney with the first ball of his next. When all the wickets fell, the score was 111.
The kiss of life was needed from Andy Moles, who made 86 from 197 balls with 12 fours. Unusually, Warwickshire were batting with only 10 men in the first innings of a Championship match. Paul Smith had rushed home by lunchtime, to prevent his stomach trouble running through the whole team.
There was a procession anyway with Watkinson attributing his dismissals - somewhat coyly for the first Lancashire hat-trick taker since Wasim Akram four years ago - to a ball nipping back, a prod forward down the wrong line from a new batsman and Penney, finally, being bowled off his pads.
Watkinson's words were not exactly the stuff of euphoria, but very nearly. Warwickshire had been put in on a pitch renowned for seam assistance, except that Lancashire broke the mould and called upon Dexter Fitton, a specialist spinner. They seemed to know something which Warwickshire did not on a surface already turning dusty.
Twose, as well as Moles, made a half century as befitted two of the three Warwickshire players beyond a 1,000 first-class runs in an appallingly thin batting order.
Glen Chapple, 18, a seam bowler from Skipton, Yorkshire, took his maiden Championship wickets and Lancashire made considerable inroads into a puny total. Gehan Mendis, in his first Championship innings since cracking a finger three months ago, and Michael Atherton hitting 64 by the close.Reuse content