Lancashire 429-6 v Warwickshire: Sutcliffe shines in run scramble between showers

If this game was being played at Lancashire's usual Old Trafford headquarters, day two would have been a complete washout. But Lancashire will at least be thankful for just more than 37 overs by the seaside here yesterday.

The red rose county's title chances have been ravaged in previous seasons by inclement northern weather, and they need as much play as possible this year.

It was no surprise then to see Iain Sutcliffe lead a run charge, either side of lunch, that yielded another 179 runs and, more importantly, three more batting bonus points at 429 for 6.

Sutcliffe, the left-hander who is out of contract at the end of the season, reached his Lancashire best of 159 with help from Nathan Astle's 64 before lunch.

When Sutcliffe was caught at first slip off the bowling of Naqaash Tahir, he had stroked 24 boundaries in all.

The Stanley Park crowd will have been enthused by Astle's knock, only his second half-century for Lancashire, and will hope that there are a few more on the horizon between now and the end of the season on 23 September.

The Kiwi all-rounder looked particularly strong square on both sides of the wicket before he also perished to Tahir. The Bears' seamer finished the day with figures of 4 for 96.

Once rid of Sutcliffe and Astle, the injury-depleted attack had to deal with an entertaining onslaught from Luke Sutton and Glen Chapple, who was at his belligerent best for a brief 22, while Sutton was slightly more watchful in his unbeaten 42 before the rain came midway through the afternoon, session.

Lancashire announced yesterday that their cricket manager, Mike Watkinson, has signed a new three-year contract to stay at the club until the end of the 2009 season.

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