Hales fires Nottinghamshire to brink of title

Lancashire 319 & 143-1dec Nottinghamshire 203-5dec & 261-7 (Nottinghamshire win by 3 wickets)
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The Independent Online

Nottinghamshire have one hand on the County Championship trophy after a deal struck with Lancashire here yesterday allowed them to turn what had looked like a certain draw into a bonus victory, giving them a 16-point lead in the First Division with a game in hand over both Somerset and Yorkshire, second and third respectively.

With the home side seemingly happy to chase bonus points after the loss of the third day to rain, Lancashire had little option but to offer an arranged finish with a win their only hope of staying in the title race.

Therefore, after Nottinghamshire declared their first innings at 203-5, some 116 behind, and asked part-time bowlers Alex Hales and Ally Brown to feed some easy runs, Lancashire walked off at lunch on 143-1, setting a target of 260 runs from 64 overs that was achieved with 8.4 overs to spare.

Hales and Brown starred with the bat and while 21-year-old Hales was out in the 90s for the second time in the day after falling two short of a first-innings century, his fine 125-ball 93 rightfully earned a standing ovation.

Brown – 19 years his senior – hit 65 off 83 balls before Steven Mullaney cracked a run-a-ball 29 against his former county to see Nottinghamshire over the line.

Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire have confirmed that four counties – Hampshire, Worcestershire, Surrey and Sussex – submitted the formal 28-days' notice of approach for England bowler Ryan Sidebottom before he announced on Thursday that he was leaving Trent Bridge.

Another player moving on is Luke Sutton, Lancashire's 33-year-old wicketkeeper, who has not been offered a new contract and is understood to have played his last match for the county.