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County cricket: League leaders escape after rain frustrates Warwickshire


Warwickshire will not yet admit defeat but their chances of mounting a successful defence of their title certainly receded when a rain-wrecked final day at Headingley robbed them of an  opportunity to deal Yorkshire’s prospects a blow.

Instead, by escaping with a draw, Yorkshire have reinforced their position at the top of the First Division table, extending their lead over second-placed Sussex from seven points to 10, following the latter’s surprise defeat at home to bottom-of-the-table Derbyshire on Sunday.

Warwickshire have begun to rediscover their form in the last month and their performance on Sunday put them in a position where even half a day’s play might have been enough to complete a third straight win, with Yorkshire 141 in front but seven second-innings wickets down.

Frustratingly, the opportunity seemed to have arrived when umpires Neil Bainton and Mark Benson signalled a 2.40pm start after overnight rain had persisted through the morning. Chris Woakes and Boyd Rankin claimed the last three Yorkshire wickets, leaving Warwickshire to chase 174 to win in 36 overs. Only two had been bowled, however, when rain returned.

“We would have given it a good go, so it was frustrating,” Warwickshire’s acting captain Varun Chopra said. “But we are playing some very good cricket and with five games to go if we win four we will end up with the same points that we won the title with last year.”

Woakes, whose yorker claimed Ryan Sidebottom, finished with a season’s best 5 for 42 and Rankin, bouncing out tailenders Steve Patterson and Jack Brooks, 4 for 29.

Nottinghamshire forced relegation-threatened Somerset to follow-on at Taunton but had to settle for a draw after Nick Compton finished with an unbeaten 70.

Lancashire had better luck at Leicester, where the weather held off long enough for them to complete their sixth win of the season – a fourth in the last five matches – to go 20 points clear of second-placed Northamptonshire and 47 in front of Gloucestershire in third. Coach Peter Moores believes two more wins in their last five fixtures will be enough to guarantee their return to the First Division at the first attempt.

Only 70 minutes’ play was needed for Leicestershire to surrender their last five wickets following on, handing Lancashire victory by an innings and 52 runs. Kyle Hogg claimed three of them to finish with 5 for 77.