Croft puts Lancashire in charge after Clarke equals world record

Lancashire 189 & 374-9 Warwickshire 280

The doubt niggling at the confidence of some Lancashire fans as Glen Chapple's team seek to end the county's title drought is that too few batsmen are delivering substantial scores but Steven Croft addressed those concerns yesterday to give his side every chance of securing an eighth win of the season.

The 24-year-old all-rounder from Blackpool, who went in with Lancashire 84 for three and still seven runs in arrears in a match equally important to the ambitions of third-placed Warwickshire, turned the contest in Lancashire's favour despite world-record-equalling efforts from Rikki Clarke in the field.

Clarke, a renowned specialist slip, held seven catches in the innings, matching the highest number by an outfielder set by Surrey's Mickey Stewart in 1957 and equalled by Tony Brown of Gloucestershire nine years later. Fielding at second slip, he took five catches off Warwickshire's seamers and another two fielding to the off-spinner Jeetan Patel.

Having taken two catches in the first innings, he became one of only two outfielders in the history of the first-class game to hold nine in a match, the other being the former England captain Wally Hammond, another specialist slip, who caught 10 for Gloucestershire against Surrey at Cheltenham in 1928.

Clarke had extra reason, therefore, for regretting that he dropped a relatively easy chance offered by Stephen Moore in Lancashire's first innings. However, he still has one more chance after Lancashire closed on 374 for nine, giving them a lead of 283.

"I can't take too much credit because the bowlers toiled away on a decent wicket with the sun out and got the edges and it is my job to catch them," he said. "I was disappointed with the drop but that one was tough because it moved in the air." "But I catch nine out of 10," he added, which on this occasion was a true statement, rather than a literal one.

Lancashire's advantage might be too much for Warwickshire on a pitch that will not play easily on the last day. Any humidity will bring swing back into play and there is enough turn and bounce for left-arm spinner Gary Keedy to be licking his lips.

Croft held the innings together for three hours, equalling his career-best in a manner that was more or less chanceless save for almost running himself out on 98 when he pushed Patel to mid on. Laurie Evans's throw missed the stumps and after diving full length he was able to take an extra run on the overthrow to reach his hundred.

He had reached 122 when he edged Keith Barker – to Clarke. It was only Lancashire's fourth hundred in the Championship this year but Brown almost added another, reaching 91 before being undone by a lifter from Boyd Rankin that made him victim No 6 for the other man of the moment.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own