Hegg holds up Yorkshire's early onslaught

This is the match in hand these two counties have on Surrey so those at The Oval will be cheering for a draw. A result is more likely, in the four days of sunshine and showers predicted for the 235th encounter, but with promotion and relegation it now becomes almost as important to deny points as to win them.

This is the match in hand these two counties have on Surrey so those at The Oval will be cheering for a draw. A result is more likely, in the four days of sunshine and showers predicted for the 235th encounter, but with promotion and relegation it now becomes almost as important to deny points as to win them.

Alan Smith, from the England and Wales Cricket Board, was here early to inspect the pitch which, after overnight rain, looked greener than County Sligo. It seemed, however, to be a sheep in wolf's clothing, flat and dry under grass that offered a little to seamers. When Mike Atherton and John Crawley zoomed away at almost five runs an over, David Byas's decision to field brought some restive mutterings around the ring.

Neither Chris Silverwood nor Matthew Hoggard could find a consistent line and the best opening pair in England picked off 46 runs in 12 overs almost nonchalantly. By then Byas had turned to Craig White, playing only his third Championship match, and in his second over he bowled a zipper, a ball that flashed across Crawley's bat as he attempted to steer to leg and flew straight to second slip.

Now, when Andrew Flintoff enters the arena there is a pause, as though time is indicating, as it did with Botham or Sobers or Bradman, that something momentous is about to happen. "Freddie" has not yet acheived legendary status but a few more innings like that on Wednesday will provide the plinth. He began where he left off at The Oval, enormously powerful drives with seemingly no more than a slight swing of the bat.

Byas, sensing he might be witnessing the countdown to a nuclear blast, gambled on his Roses' debutant, the slight, fair 19-year-old Chris Elstub, from Dewsbury. He bowls right arm deceptive, winning outswing from an inswing delivery and after Flintoff had hit five boundaries and reached 28 off 24 balls he went to drive Elstub through mid-off and was bowled.

There followed a minor collapse: Atherton, as solid as the Great Pyramid and looking as permanent, got the faintest edge to a cracking delivery from Hoggard, happier then when coming downhill; Neil Fairbrother was deceived byElstub and Yorkshire must have been relieved at lunch, with Lancashire 100 for 4.

Graham Lloyd's departure, eight overs later when he tried to hook a bouncer only to be caught by slip running back, pitched the innings into a real crisis and when Hoggard, with another corker, dismissed Sourav Ganguly all the batsmen were back in the pavilion.Warren Hegg, who has made a career out of spiting Yorkshire, then did it again.

With Glen Chapple a sensible partner, he began by taking full measurement of the pitch and the bowling, nicked and nudged one or two and then began to take toll of a Yorkshire attack that, this season, has cracked more than once when attacked. Elstub was the first to realise these matches are not all beer and skittles as Hegg twice drove him for boundaries and by the time he had reached his 50, off 62 balls, he had hit seven fours and Lancashire were past 200.

Chapple eventually fell to Michael Vaughan's arm ball, the stand raising 88 in 30 overs.

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