Lancashire 438 & 13-2 Hampshire 215: 'We are still not quite good enough' admits Lancashire captain

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The Independent Online

It was appropriate, if not ironic, that Lancashire learned of Sussex's County Championship triumph while confined to their dressing-room by rain.

Only five overs were possible yesterday, although in that time Lancashire contrived to lose their opener Iain Sutcliffe. Mark Chilton, the Lancashire captain, said: "It seems ironic, really. We thought we were set for two pretty good days of weather down here, while the weather looked worse up there in Nottingham for Sussex, but it has turned out the other way.

"The mood in the dressing-room is one of disappointment. After seven or eight months of really hard work, we have fallen short and come second."

But, despite having led Lancashire to victory over Sussex at Liverpool and a hard-fought draw at Hove in August, Chilton was generous enough to admit: "You have to say that the best side has won the Championship. All credit to Sussex they have played solid cricket over 16 games. They were a tough team down at Hove, where they have played really well. They have two or three outstanding individuals. It is a huge bonus having a man of Mushtaq Ahmed's quality. To take 102 wickets in 16 games is a huge achievement. Ultimately they deserved the title."

Nor was Chilton prepared to blame the weather. "You can look at many situations over the last six months where we could have edged a few more points. The weather has killed us in two or three games, but you can't make too many excuses. We have not had too many bad sessions in the four-day game, and yet we are still not quite good enough."

Despite the disappointment, the captain is optimistic for 2007. He said: "We have to look to next year now. This has been a 'nearly' year for us, what with losing the C&G final to Sussex and being pipped in the Championship by the same team. But we know as a squad that we have played a lot of good cricket."

One member of that squad who has come good is Dominic Cork, who is being linked with a move to Warwickshire, but Chilton expects the former England all-rounder to be at Old Trafford when they renew their attempt to end more than 70 years of misery by winning the Championship outright. "Hopefully, Corky will be at Old Trafford next year. The way he has played over the last six weeks I would like to think his future is with Lancashire."

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