County Championship round-up: Leaders hold on for draw to thwart champions

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The Independent Online

Lancashire may have said goodbye to any hopes of retaining the County Championship title but they ended the first half of the season with a reminder of how they won it.

On the final day of a match that rode out the worst of the weather to serve up an exciting finish – thanks in no small part to the co-operative enterprise of the two captains – they ultimately forced one of this summer's title favourites into a survival battle.

Nottinghamshire, who had made a bold attempt to chase 351 after Chris Read and Glen Chapple agreed to forfeit an innings each, finished on 293 for 7, seeing off 10 overs against the second new ball. The draw means Notts lead the First Division as the Championship goes into mid-season hibernation as Twenty20 takes charge, but by only a point from Warwickshire, who have a game in hand. Yet it had been a meritworthy effort by Lancashire, whose start to their title defence had been so rocky that it was not until last weekend that they achieved a first win.

Chapple and Kyle Hogg bowled some outstandingly good spells and with Chapple rotating his resources well, the less reliable Ajmal Shahzad was not overexposed when his attacking approach veered towards waywardness. Nottinghamshire were therefore never allowed the decisive period of acceleration they needed.

Wickets came at key moments. The home side's cause needed at least one of Adam Voges, Michael Lumb, Samit Patel or James Taylor to turn a start into a century, yet with 67 Voges was the top scorer in the middle order.

Taylor painstakingly built his first Championship half-century for Nottinghamshire and Read upped the tempo enough that with 15 overs to get 98 and five wickets still standing, there was still a chance of a home victory. But after Taylor had been leg before to a Shahzad yorker, a limping Andre Adams, who needed a runner after injuring an ankle on Friday, drove his first ball back past the bowler only for Chapple, anticipating the shot, to take a fine running catch at long-off.

No bargaining was necessary at Horsham, where Sussex had their sights on their second win of the season after Surrey closed a man down and still 188 behind overnight. Sussex achieved their win by 10 wickets, with four overs to spare.

Sussex found one stubborn adversary, however, in Rory Hamilton-Brown, who managed to subdue his aggressive instincts in an innings that spanned more than three hours in a desperate attempt to run down the clock. He found a doughty ally in Tom Maynard, who survived for 13 overs despite sporting a black eye sustained in a minor road accident.

But despite Hamilton-Brown's efforts, Surrey could achieve a lead of only 21 and Sussex needed only 12 balls to knock off the 22 therefore needed to win, Ed Joyce smashing 19 off 11 balls.

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