Keedy edges Lancashire to vital extra point

Lancashire 403-9 v Worcestershire
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The Independent Online

Gone are the September days when tired cricketers longed for rain and a relaxing game of cards, or a snooze in the dressing-room. Relegation means every point is, or could be, vital; something Lancashire are fully aware of in their perilous position in the bottom three of the Championship's First Division.

Gone are the September days when tired cricketers longed for rain and a relaxing game of cards, or a snooze in the dressing-room. Relegation means every point is, or could be, vital; something Lancashire are fully aware of in their perilous position in the bottom three of the Championship's First Division.

So even though persistent drizzle and gloomy skies shortened the day to only 15.4 overs, they will be relieved that they reached 400 and secured the fifth batting point just as Worcestershire will be satisfied with completing the full quota of bowling points, although for them it is probably academic to their slender chances of staying up.

It also helped create tension in what otherwise would have been a soporific day. When Warren Hegg, who has only scored two Championship half-centuries in the last three seasons, was caught behind essaying a back-foot drive off Andy Bichel, 19 more runs were still needed. With him and the composed Sajid Mahmood at the wicket, the point looked secure but Gary Keedy is more a traditional No 11.

They eked towards the target and then in a flurry of aggressive strokes from Mahmood, reached 398. It took another 23 balls and 14 minutes, though, before another run was scored and that was more than fortuitous. Keedy slashed at a short ball and edged just over the slips for a boundary to the relief of the Lancashire balcony. But it did underline the importance of tail-enders contributing runs, something all bowlers with ambition to play for England should remember is a central belief of Duncan Fletcher.

Lancashire's last four wickets added 112, so important for immediate points. But to force a result now will take a horrendous abdication of duty by the Worcestershire batsmen, unlikely on such a slow pitch, or collusion between the captains.

*In the Second Division, Essex completed an eight-wicket victory over Derbyshire inside two days at Chelmsford. Derbyshire made 166 in their second innings before Alastair Cook led Essex to 194 for 2 with an unbeaten 68.

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