Cricket: Yorkshire leave the door ajar: Derek Hodgson at Old Trafford

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Yorkshire 242 and 258; Lancashire 167 and 137-2

ONCE there would have been 20,000 at this fixture but yesterday no more than a tenth of that number saw Lancashire, aided by a mighty effort from Wasim Akram and polished play from John Crawley, at worst delay defeat. Wasim returned 12 for 125 in the match, his best for the county, before Lancashire were set 334 to win, probably not knowing that their best-ever winning score was 305 in 1980.

It began with a glorious morning. The players had been knocking up for an hour when umpires Dickie Bird and Kenny Palmer ruled that the ground was unfit because of a patch of damp some 50 yards from the pitch. Play was delayed for 70 minutes; a ludicrous decision.

The thin crowd had been expected. The Roses counties, meeting for the 235th time, have possibly never been in such low esteem together. Yet they can still command between a quarter and a third of the country's entire county membership.

Yorkshire, sent in on a grassy, damp and bumpy pitch, scraped a decent score through Michael Vaughan and Paul Grayson and then ran through a rattled Lancashire team to earn a lead of 75, augmented to 262 by yesterday's delayed start.

The Tykes, having been in a winning position, became so fearful of losing it that in the 17 overs to lunch only another 29 runs were added, and for the loss of Richard Blakey, whose smooth 37, promising more, ended in a short-leg catch when trying to counter Wasim's bounce.

The penalty for such poking about was paid afterwards when Wasim and Phil DeFreitas, sensing uncertainty, ripped out four wickets in four overs for four runs. Craig White, the first victim, had spent 12 overs scoring three and when he, Byas, Carrick and Grayson had all departed, Neil Fairbrother suddenly found a barred and bolted door swinging open. But not for long; Darren Gough and Peter Hartley, raising 37 for the ninth wicket, ensured Lancashire would have to top 300 to win, a task that Gehan Mendis and Crawley seemed to think possible by the close, taking 41 off the first eight overs. The impressive Mark Robinson knocked over two wickets with successive balls.