Durham 372 Lancashire 210-5: Sun puts dark cloud over Lancashire

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The Independent Online

Jokes about the Manchester weather do not go down well in these parts at the best of times but it can be safely assumed that any attempt at humour along those lines just now will be received with a particular scowl, especially after the rich irony of the circumstances that forced the players to leave the field here yesterday.

Already resigned to the likelihood of another rain-wrecked draw following Thursday's total wash-out, Lancashire had to suffer the frustration of losing more playing time - because the setting September sun was too bright.

Shining directly into the eyes of the batsman at the west-facing Brian Statham End, it made seeing the ball virtually impossible, leaving the umpires, Peter Willey and Nigel Cowley, with no option but to call a halt with 11 overs still scheduled.

Given that sunshine, even here, is not unknown, the stoppage was not unprecedented, although on this occasion it did add a bizarre twist to Lancashire's railing against the elements.

Glen Chapple, who was at the crease when play was halted, said: "If it is sunny, it is hard to see. We mentioned this to the umpires and they agreed. We could have lost wickets purely because of the sun." However, Lancashire's decision to come off did not go down well with some of their supporters, who vented their anger at the players.

The Lancashire batsman Stuart Law, who hit 50 to reach 1,000 Championship runs for the season, said: "It is disappointing when you hear things like 'Don't you want to win the Championship?' from your own supporters. Of course we want to win [it]. If they are feeling frustrated, you can multiply that by a thousand in the dressing-room."

This is the sixth Championship match in their season to suffer major disruption, five of which have been at home, three of which they might reasonably have expected to win. Home and away, the weather has deprived them of at least 1,052 possible overs - the equivalent of more than 10 full days. Contrast that with the 175 overs lost by Sussex.

They needed to beat Durham to enter the last week of the campaign as favourites for the title but, barring some kind of last-day collusion, a draw looks inevitable. Durham were bowled out for 372 in the morning as Lancashire earned two bonus points. But despite half-centuries from Chilton, Mal Loye and Law, they lost five wickets.