Lancashire 362 Middlesex 350-9: Lancashire make their points to stay in the title race

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This was one of those days when trying to explain cricket to an uninitiated guest would be a task you might wish that you had never undertaken.

How do you make sense of a game in which neither side appears to want to win? For the players of Lancashire and Middlesex, needless to say, it was clear. Thanks to the weather, a match that had been limited to 105 overs in the first three days was going nowhere fast and the final day could have been described as pointless.

Except, of course, that it was not. Points ­ first-innings bonus points ­ were up for grabs and those who argue that they should be abolished could not ask for more convincing evidence to support their case than what happened here yesterday.

A positive result might have been possible had both sides agreed, say, to forfeit one innings each. However, that would have meant sacrificing potential bonus points with no guarantee that the contest would not have ended in a draw anyway and this was clearly a risk that neither side was prepared to take.

You cannot blame either team. Lancashire are chasing the Championship, Middlesex are battling to avoid relegation. Every point is vital at this stage of the season and both sides clearly wanted to rake in as many as possible, even if it meant that those spectators present effectively witnessed a non-contest.

And, by happy coincidence, they finished with seven bonus points each. Middlesex, resuming at 262-6, advanced rapidly to 350 for 9 (four batting points, three bowling points) before declaring. Lancashire, it just so happens, were then bowled out for 362 (four points) and Middlesex picked up three points for taking all 10 wickets.

The consequence is that Lancashire are level on points with Sussex, who lead the title race by virtue of having one more win, while Middlesex close the gap between themselves and the safety of seventh place to two points.

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