Courageous Chapple sums up never-say-die Red Rose

Somerset 380 & 105-5 Lancashire 480

Taunton

For one happy hour yesterday, Lancashire and their fans could gaze upon a Championship table that fulfilled dreams. Then it was back to nerve-shredding reality and a fight to the finish in this twisting, turning title race.

When Glen Chapple scored the single that lifted his county's first-innings total to 400 – securing maximum batting points – the narrowest possible advantage rested with the Red Rose. All was even at the top but Lancashire held first place on the basis they had enjoyed the better of their matches with fellow contenders Warwickshire.

The Bears then returned to the top but, having come this far, Lancashire were not about to throw in the towel – not with a man like Chapple in charge. The 37-year-old captain defied what is believed to be a torn hamstring by not only batting purposefully but also sending down eight typically waspish overs with the new ball when Somerset started their second dig 100 runs in arrears.

Chapple gave them a terrific start by pinning Arul Suppiah lbw with his 19th delivery. Then Kyle Hogg found the edge twice in quick succession to remove Alex Barrow and Chris Jones before the hosts had reached 30.

It was spinners Gary Keedy and Simon Kerrigan, though, who claimed the big wickets of James Hildreth and Jos Buttler, and it will be a major surprise if an away win is not sealed sooner rather than later today.

Whatever the outcome, Lancashire deserve great credit for staying in the hunt all season with a team that is short of household names but laden with never-say-die spirit. Their performance with the bat in this match sums them up. No-one managed to score a century, nor go beyond 68 for that matter, but the first 10 reached 20 and all 11 made it into double figures to give the side a healthy total of 480.

Lancashire had not taken maximum batting points (posting 400 inside 110 overs) all season. Whether they can end a much longer wait for a far bigger prize remains to be seen.

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