Lancashire 250-3 v Warwickshire: Sutcliffe off his sickbed to leave Bears with sore head

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The Independent Online

Some will say that Iain Sutcliffe was Lancashire's missing link in their C&G Trophy final defeat at the hands of Sussex on Saturday.

The Red Rose county probably ended up one batsman short in their pursuit of 173 at the home of cricket, and the opener proved he has plenty to offer with a fluent championship century against Warwickshire here yesterday.

Sutcliffe drove imperiously throughout his unbeaten 117 and Stuart Law chipped in with 61. Sutcliffe, the former Leicestershire left-hander, is the only one of the current XI who has a four-day medal in his locker, and he set about trying to claim a second with 10 boundaries before lunch.

After losing skipper Mark Chilton and Mal Loye to Paul Harris and Naqaash Tahir, Sutcliffe and Law carried their side back to the Division One summit with a bonus point at 200.

Their third-wicket alliance of 101 was ended, however, when Law could only guide Tahir to Nick Knight at first slip. But Sutcliffe, who had spent the day before recovering from sickness, carried on regardless, reaching his second century of the season in apt fashion with a cover drive off his 201st ball.

All the talk surrounding the Lancashire camp had been whether or not they could bounce back from their Sussex defeat in a manner akin to genuine title contenders. Ironically, it was Sutcliffe, the man who has not played a one-day game in 2006, who gave the Stanley Park crowd the answer they craved. Warwickshire's attack also helped.

The Bears are missing captain Heath Streak, James Anyon and veteran all-rounder Dougie Brown, who are suffering varying degrees of back problems. Harris, the South African left-arm spinner playing under the guise of the Kolpak ruling, bowled with control for his one for 19 off 17 overs. But the rest seemed intent on feeding Sutcliffe with a buffet of half-volleys.

A brief delay, due to a water bomb that burst on the wicket after being catapulted on to the playing surface from the adjacent park, left players and umpires looking completely befuddled while trying to work out exactly where the offending object had come from.

A more conventional delay - via rain - came just after tea with more water hitting the pitch and halting play for the day, with 29 overs lost.

* At the top of the Second Division, Lou Vincent, Vikram Solanki and Graeme Hick all cracked centuries as Worcestershire claimed a huge advantage over promotion rivals Essex. The two clubs are fighting it out for third place behind Surrey. Kiwi Vincent (114 from 120 balls) smashed his way to three figures before lunch at New Road and Solanki (122) joined him in the afternoon before Hick joined the party in the final session.