Cricket: Watkinson's wily ways

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The Independent Online
Lancashire 415-8 dec

Warwickshire 203 and 187

Lancs win by an innings and 25 runs

LANCASHIRE turned the Championship table almost on Warwickshire's heads, as sixteenth playing sixth brought a resounding victory for the lowly ones. Michael Watkinson gathered his first 10-wicket match return, for 103 runs, in an 11-year career.

Watkinson's figures of 6 for 62 yesterday produced his 19th instance of five wickets in an innings, but in this game he sustained a mixture of seam and spin bowling to eject Warwickshire, just about, from the Championship chase. Statistics apart, Watkinson has thrived on middle-order batting perseverance, together with a taste of spin over the last six years to supplement his original medium pace bowling.

This was Lancashire's third win, ironically their second by an innings, compared with Warwickshire's seventh defeat. Only Durham have lost more games. Their need to acquire an experienced batsman, or two, to support the promise of Dominic Ostler, Trevor Penney and Neil Smith has grown almost by the day.

Ostler, who made a half-century, and Penney confirmed their merits in a fourth-wicket partnership of 92, but inexperience was not far away. Neil Smith, venturing a drive, was bowled by Watkinson and, at 140 for 6, Warwickshire had nothing to anticipate apart from defeat or, more appealingly, rain. They lost with 20 minutes plus 20 overs still available.

Andy Lloyd, their captain, had a 73-ball 'net', spanning 74 minutes for one run. It hardly hindered Lancashire. They have suffered so many care-worn matches this summer that the overall performance of 5 for 66 from Glen Chapple, a fair-haired 18-year-old seam bowler in his second Championship game, was sheer bliss. 'Another one Yorkshire have missed,' they will say in Skipton, his birthplace.

Watkinson's wicket balance was seven in all as a seam bowler and, in the second innings, three of his six as a spinner. Warwickshire could not cope with his swing on a dewy morning, and were later confounded by his change of style.