Horton delays prospect of defeat for champions

Warwickshire 557-6 dec Lancashire 197 & 122-3

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The Independent Online

Paul Horton produced some belated defiance on behalf of beleaguered Lancashire but there does not seem much hope that the 2011 champions can avoid a fourth defeat of the season without more of the gloom that came to their aid last night when the light closed in nine overs early.

The opener's unbeaten half-century enabled Lancashire to limp to 122 for three at the close, still 238 runs short of denying Warwickshire the innings victory that would put them 15 points clear at the top of the First Division with a game in hand over Nottinghamshire and Somerset.

Horton is unbeaten on 56 but eight wickets in the day rewarded more impressive work from the Warwickshire bowlers on what has essentially been a good batting surface. Seven today will lay on a fourth win in six games.

Lancashire had been 54-5 on Thursday, so 197 all out represented something of a recovery. Yet the total of 408 they needed to avoid the follow-on was, of course, never remotely likely.

They limped through to lunch at 145-7, largely due to the efforts of Ashwell Prince, with his fourth half-century in nine Championship innings since he rejoined Lancashire.

Glen Chapple, despite the side strain that stopped him bowling for much of the marathon home innings, survived 44 balls for his 14 but Prince, who finished unbeaten on 87, required more than one supporting act.

Warwickshire's bowling was not as effective as it had been in the closing session on Thursday but the batsmen were never comfortable against Chris Woakes, who finished with three for 20 from his first bowl of the season, and Chris Wright in particular.

Jeetan Patel's off-spinners were not able to conjure much in the way of turn but he finished on a hat-trick when he dismissed Simon Kerrigan and Gary Keedy with successive balls, denying Lancashire even the consolation of a batting point.

Woakes took his fourth wicket of the match when Stephen Moore edged a perfect late away-swinger to first slip in only the fifth over of the follow-on and for a moment Warwickshire had visions of wrapping things up well before the close.

Horton and Karl Brown had other ideas, though, adding 89 for the second wicket – the best Lancashire stand by some margin so far here. But just as some less optimistic spectators were starting to wonder if Warwickshire might have declared earlier on Thursday, two quick wickets tipped the balance heavily back their way.

First Brown, always looking to play shots, edged Wright into the gloves of wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose and then Prince, playing a stroke quite out of character with his first-innings efforts, went after a ball from Patel outside off stump and was taken by Rikki Clarke at slip.